July 12, 2013 4th Circuit published opinions

E.D. et al through their next friends v Pfizer, Inc.

E.D. and eighteen other children through their mothers sued Pfizer alleging birth defects caused by the mother’s use of Zoloft during pregnancy. The plaintiffs were individually assessed filing fees, but, were not required to file a separate complaint. Pfizer removed all diverse plaintiffs to federal court. The district court ruled there was only one case, a nondiverse plaintiff was properly joined and thus the case should be remanded to state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The panel dismissed. It held that under 28 USC 1447(c), the panel lacked power to review the order as it was based on a finding of no subject matter jurisdiction and no exception applied as the order relied on a statutory basis and there was no order logically antecedent to the remand order.

United States v Shibin 

Shibin was convicted of piracy and related charges for acting as negotiator in two ship high jacking incidents where he never went onto the high seas. The panel affirmed. It held that 18 USC 1651 does not require acts which aid and abet piracy to occur on the high seas and that international law likewise allows conviction when aiding and abetting occurs off the high seas. The panel that while Shibin was brought into the United States involuntarily, no treaty was violated and the district court therefore had personal jurisdiction over Shibin. The panel held the nonpiracy convictions were proper as the statutes involved applied extraterritorially and implemented treaties or supplemented treaties under the Necessary and proper clause. The panel finally rejected an evidentiary claim holding the testimony was a prior inconsistent statement of a defense witness, that the interpreter was not required to testify and in any event Shibin admitted his participation in admissible interview evidence.

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