According to the New Jersey Appellate Division, a out-of-state plaintiff may continue his product liability case against Hoffman-La Roche. In the case, Rowe v. Hoffman-La Roche, Mr. Rowe alleges that the acne drug Accutane, which is manufactured by Hoffman-La Roche, caused his depression and suicide attempt. A lower court had dismissed the suit because the plaintiff is from Michigan and under Michigan’s product liability laws, a drug company is granted absolute immunity from suit if the drug has been approved by the FDA. However, the appeals court found that New Jersey’s product liability statute applied, since the defendant was a New Jersey company. New Jersey’s law does not grant automatic immunity based on FDA approval, but instead provides only a rebuttable presumption against liability. The Appellate Division relied on the case of Gantes v. Kason Corp., a New Jersey Supreme Court case, in which the Court held that decisions regarding which state’s laws apply, should be made on a case-by-case basis using a “flexible, government interest analysis.” Hoffman-La Roche will likely appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.
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