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In re DES Litigation

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Brief Fact Summary.

Boehringer appealed the plaintiffs failure to prosecute because it could harm their chances to prevail in outstanding DES cases against them within the state of New York.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

A prevailing party may not appeal a favorable judgment unless the party faces collateral estoppel or an aspect of the judgment is not in their favor.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

We think the petitioners were entitled to have this portion of the decree eliminated, and that the Circuit Court of Appeals had jurisdiction, as we have held this court has, to entertain the appeal, not for the purpose of passing on the merits, but to direct the reformation of the decree.

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Facts.

The plaintiffs sued 33 drug manufacturers for DES injuries in New York federal court. Boehringer was one of the 33 defendants, a Delaware corporation that never sold DES. Boehringer’s predecessor sold DES but had no contacts within the state of New York. Boehringer sought dismissal for lack of personal jurisdiction and the judge denied the motion. The plaintiffs declined to prosecute Boehringer and the district court dismissed for failure to prosecute. Boehringer appealed claiming that the failure to prosecute could harm them in other outstanding DES cases in New York.

Issue.

Whether a prevailing party is able to appeal a favorable judgment?

Held.

No. Boehringer’s appeal is dismissed because Boehringer is not asking for any change to the judgment. Boehringer is instead seeking the reversal of an interlocutory order.

Discussion.

A prevailing party may not appeal a favorable judgment unless the party faces collateral estoppel or an aspect of the judgment is not in their favor.


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