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In a victory for the pharmaceutical industry, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the right for people from anywhere in the country to file product-liability lawsuits against drug makers in California and several other states where courts are seen as more hospitable to consumers.

The ruling came in response to a debate over jurisdiction, which can be used to determine where a lawsuit may be filed. Last year, the California Supreme Court clarified the extent to which Bristol-Myers Squibb needed to have a presence in California in order to be sued by hundreds of people from Texas, Ohio, and 33 other states, who claim they were harmed by its Plavix blood thinner.


Although the drug maker is not headquartered in California, the state supreme court decided the company conducts enough business — sales, marketing, distribution, and R&D — for its state court to serve as a venue for lawsuits filed by 592 out-of-state residents. Those lawsuits cited California state law in pressing their cases.

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