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Heaton v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division

August 28, 2019

JOHN HEATON, Plaintiff,
v.
BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM PHARMACEUTICALS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

          James Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge

         John Heaton brought this suit against Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals (“BI”) claiming that Pradaxa, a medication BI produces, injured him. See dkt. 1-1. BI filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Dkt. [8]. Mr. Heaton's complaint merely recites the elements of a negligence claim and does not give BI fair notice of the claim against it, so that motion is GRANTED.

         I. Facts and Background

          Because BI has moved for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6), the Court accepts and recites “the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true.” McCauley v. City of Chicago, 671 F.3d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 2011).

         In early February 2017, Mr. Heaton was prescribed Pradaxa, a drug produced by BI. Dkt. 1-1 at 1 ¶ 2. He started taking the medication, which injured him. Dkt. 1-1 at 1 ¶ 3. Mr. Heaton filed a negligence claim in Sullivan Superior Court and BI removed the case to this Court. Dkt. 1. BI has filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Dkt. 8.

         II. Applicable Law

         Defendants may move under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) to dismiss claims for “failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). A facially plausible claim is one that allows “the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id.

         Under that standard, a plaintiff must provide “some specific facts” that “raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” McCauley, 671 F.3d at 616 (quoting Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 581 (7th Cir. 2009)). “The degree of specificity required is not easily quantified, but ‘the plaintiff must give enough details about the subject-matter of the case to present a story that holds together.'” Id. (quoting Swanson v. Citibank, N.A., 614 F.3d 400, 404 (7th Cir. 2010)). Otherwise, a defendant will not have “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. Applying the procedural pleading requirements to the applicable substantive law is “a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense.” McCauley, 671 F.3d at 616.

         When ruling on a 12(b)(6) motion, the Court will “accept the well-pleaded facts in the complaint as true, ” but will not defer to “legal conclusions and conclusory allegations merely reciting the elements of the claim.” Id.[1]

         III. Analysis

         A. The Indiana Product Liability Act cause of action

          BI argues that Mr. Heaton can sue only through an Indiana Product Liability Act (“IPLA”) cause of action, so his negligence claim should be dismissed with prejudice. Dkt. 9 at 3, 5-6. Mr. Heaton responds that if the IPLA governs his complaint, he should be allowed to proceed under that IPLA cause of action. Dkt. 12 at 2.

         In Indiana, the IPLA “governs all actions brought by a user or consumer against a manufacturer for physical harm caused by a product, regardless of the legal theory upon which the action is brought.” Piltch v. Ford Motor Co., 778 F.3d 628, 632 (7th Cir. 2015) (citing Ind. Code § 34-20-1-1). Mr. Heaton's negligence claim is therefore governed by the IPLA because he is a consumer alleging harm from a product. See id.; Stegemoller v. ACandS Inc., 767 N.E.2d 974, 975 (Ind. 2002).

         Mr. Heaton's complaint does not cite the IPLA, but the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require complaints to cite statutes or legal rules and “specifying an incorrect theory is not fatal.” Bartholet v. Reishauer A.G. (Zurich), 953 F.2d 1073, 1078 (7th Cir. 1992). Mr. Heaton's complaint is therefore not subject to dismissal because it fails cite the IPLA. See id.; Bailey v. Medtronic, Inc., No. 1:17-cv-2314-JMS-DML, 2017 WL ...


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