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Sorrentino v. Barr Laboratories

May 20, 2010

ERICH M. SORRENTINO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BARR LABORATORIES, INC., DEFENDANT,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Glenn T. Suddaby, United States District Court Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Currently before the Court in this products liability action, filed by Erich Sorrentino in his capacity as executor of the estate of his mother ("Plaintiff"), is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), filed by Barr Laboratories, Inc. ("Defendant"). (Dkt. No. 12.) Plaintiff has not opposed the motion. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is granted and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Plaintiff's Claims

Generally, liberally construed, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges that Defendant manufactured the medication fluoxentine, which caused or contributed to the death of his mother, Angela E. Sorrentino. (See generally Dkt. No. 1.) More specifically, Plaintiff alleges that his father, Bernard J. Sorrentino, was prescribed the antidepressant fluoxentine on or about March 1, 2002, because he was suffering from depression and stress due to the fact that his wife, Angela, was considering leaving him. (Id. at 4.)*fn1 Plaintiff further alleges that, sixteen days later, while under the influence of the drug, Plaintiff's father stabbed Angela, who died two hours later. (Id.) Finally, Plaintiff alleges that fluoxetine is a "mind-altering" drug that may "cause suicide or violence in some people[,]" and Defendant either knew or should have known of this fact. (Id. at 5-6.) Based on these factual allegations, Plaintiff asserts against Defendant claims of negligence, breach warranty, defective design, failure to warn, and improper marketing practices. (Id. at 6-7.) Familiarity with the remaining factual allegations supporting these claims in Plaintiff's Complaint is assumed in this Decision and Order, which is intended primarily for review by the parties. (Id.)

B. Defendants' Motion

Defendant filed its motion to dismiss on August 28, 2009. (Dkt. No. 12.) Generally, in support of its motion, Defendant argues that Plaintiff's claims are time-barred pursuant to New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Law § 5-4.1. (See generally id., Attach. 3 [Def.'s Memo. of Law].) Plaintiff was notified twice that his response to Defendant's motion was due on September 14, 2009. (See Docket Sheet Entry dated 08/28/2009; Text Notice filed 09/14/2009.)*fn2 Despite this notice, during the more than eight months that have passed since the filing of Defendant's motion, Plaintiff failed to file either a response to Defendant's motion or a request for an extension of time in which to file such response. (See generally Docket Sheet.)

II. RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Legal Standard Governing Motions to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

"A motion to dismiss on the basis that an action is barred by the statute of limitations is analyzed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), not 12(b)(1)." Garner v. DII Indus., LLC, 08-CV-6191, 2010 WL 456801, at *1 (W.D.N.Y. Feb. 4, 2010) (citing Ghartey v. St John's Queens Hosp., 869 F.2d 160, 162 [2d Cir. 1989]).

It has long been understood that a defendant may base a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim on either or both of two grounds: (1) a challenge to the "sufficiency of the pleading" under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2); or (2) a challenge to the legal cognizability of the claim. Jackson v. Onondaga County, 549 F. Supp.2d 204, 211, nn. 15-16 (N.D.N.Y. 2008) (McAvoy, J., adopting Report-Recommendation on de novo review) [citations omitted].

With regard to the first ground, Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) requires that a pleading contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) [emphasis added]. By requiring this "showing," Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) requires that the pleading contain a short and plain statement that "give[s] the defendant fair notice of what the plaintiff's claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Jackson, 549 F. Supp.2d at 212, n.17 [citations omitted]. The main purpose of this rule is to "facilitate a proper decision on the merits." Rusyniak v. Gensini, 629 F. Supp.2d 203, 213 & n.32 (N.D.N.Y. 2009) (Suddaby, J.) [citations omitted].

The Supreme Court has long characterized this pleading requirement under Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2) as "simplified" and "liberal," and has repeatedly rejected judicially established pleading requirements that exceed this liberal requirement. Jackson, 549 F. Supp.2d at 212, n.20 [citations omitted]. However, even this liberal notice pleading standard "has its limits." Id. at 212, n.21 [citations omitted]. As a result, numerous Supreme Court and ...


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