Cottrell v. Alcon Labs
We are lead counsel in this appeal of a dismissal of a multistate class action alleging that the defendant pharmaceutical companies violated various state consumer protection statutes by purposely packaging their prescription eye drops in droppers that emitted a far larger drop than is therapeutically necessary. The plaintiffs cited studies concluding that packaging producing a smaller drop would be both medically preferable and less expensive for consumers. The district court dismissed the case on the ground that the plaintiffs’ claimed injury—that they would have paid less for the drugs had they been packaged differently—was too speculative to confer the injury-in-fact requirement for standing.
We argued, among other things, that the district court’s view of standing unfairly requires the plaintiffs to prove their claims before they are allowed any discovery, and effectively shut the courthouse doors on vast numbers of injury victims. The Third Circuit agreed with us that the plaintiff’s had met their burden for standing, and reversed the district court’s dismissal and remanded the case. The decision preserves the right of consumers who bought and paid for products to sue if the manufacturer’s practices violate the law. We view the case as part of a larger trend of attempts by corporations to seek dismissal of consumer class actions on standing grounds, and hope that the Third Circuit’s opinion acts as precedent to reject this tactic.