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Associacao Brasileira de Medicina de Grupo v. Stryker Corp.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

May 31, 2018

Associação Brasileira de Medicina de Grupo, dba Abramge, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Stryker Corporation, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued: January 25, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids. No. 1:16-cv-01366-Robert J. Jonker, Chief District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          R. James DeRose, III, LOCKE LORD LLP, New York, New York, for Appellant.

          D. Andrew Portinga, MILLER JOHNSON, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          R. James DeRose, III, LOCKE LORD LLP, New York, New York, Nathaniel R. Wolf, Ross A. Leisman, MIKA MEYERS PLC, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellant.

          D. Andrew Portinga, David J. Gass, MILLER JOHNSON, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: NORRIS, BATCHELDER, and STRANCH, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          JANE B. STRANCH, Circuit Judge.

         An association of Brazilian health insurance providers sued Stryker, a Michigan corporation that manufactures and distributes medical devices, alleging that Stryker's fraudulent and improper payments to Brazilian doctors increased the cost of providing healthcare. The district court dismissed the case under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, essentially finding that the case should have been brought in Brazil instead of Michigan. Because Stryker did not carry its burden of proving that Brazil is an available and adequate alternative forum in which the case may be heard, we REVERSE and REMAND.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Associação Brasileira de Medicina de Grupo (Abramge) is a Brazilian nonprofit professional association. Its members are private health insurance providers, many of whom were impacted by a bribery and kickback scandal in the medical device market that broke in the Brazilian media in 2015.

         According to Abramge's complaint, Defendant Stryker, a Michigan corporation, masterminded an "illicit scheme, which was planned and run from Michigan, designed to increase its market share by making improper payments and paying bribes and kickbacks to Brazilian doctors to induce the use of Stryker products." On its own and through a wholly owned Brazilian subsidy and other local agents, Stryker allegedly "made improper payments and paid kickbacks to Brazilian doctors with the intent of influencing those doctors to use Stryker devices and products in patients even if those devices were not called for or did not best meet the patients' medical needs." The improper influence Stryker allegedly brought to bear increased the cost of devices as well as the number of devices implanted and surgeries performed; health insurance providers, including members of Abramge, ...


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