The recent opinion in Rowland v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., ___ F. Supp.2d ___, 2013 WL 6145119 (W.D. Pa. Nov 22, 2013), has us shaking our heads. That’s not so much because of the legal issue being fought over, but rather because of the machinations that led to a most peculiar result.
That’s not the rule that the court in Rowland applied to the three Pennsylvania plaintiffs, however. Indeed, the opinion didn’t even discuss Daniel or apply the choice of law rules of those plaintiffs’ domicile. Instead, Rowland applied the choice of law rules of D.C. and New York, 2013 WL 6145119, at *7-13, which led to the opposite result – application of Pennsylvania substantive punitive damages law to a case in which a Pennsylvania court would not have done so. We probably should add “ostensibly,” at least with respect to D.C., since theRowland opinion cited many more Pennsylvania and Third Circuit opinions than anything out of D.C. In that respect, we find it odd that, of the “numerous district courts within our own circuit” cited in Rowland, id. at *10, not one of them was decided after (and thus had a chance to consider) the Pennsylvania rule as stated in Daniels. Our readers know that we’re sticklers for conservatism in Erie predictions of state law. To the extent that Rowland allowed the result to be influenced by Pennsylvania law, it really should have followed, or at least discussed, Daniel, since that is the only appellate precedent on point.