Lawyer against Just for Men seeks to keep jurisdiction in Southern District of Illinois

By Ann Maher | Mar 19, 2019

Yandle and Driscoll  

BENTON – To preserve jurisdiction over 8,655 claims of injury from Just for Men hair dye, John Driscoll of St. Louis proposes to treat four defendants as one. 

Driscoll amended complaints on March 18, to assert that Combe Inc., Combe Products, Combe Laboratories, and Combe International act as alter egos of each other. He wrote that the court should disregard any claim of separate identity. 

He also wrote that Chris Combe is chief executive officer of Combe Inc., chairman of Combe Laboratories, and president of Combe Products. 

He amended complaints because the U.S. Supreme Court restricted jurisdiction of any court over residents from other states suing defendants from other states. 

The Court ruled that a court may exercise personal jurisdiction only if a claim arises out of a defendant’s contact with the forum. 

About six percent of Driscoll’s plaintiffs live in Illinois. 

Among the Combe companies, only Combe Labs operates in Illinois. 

Driscoll filed suits for 3,709 plaintiffs in 2016, in association with the Schlichter Bogard Denton firm of St. Louis. 

Plaintiffs claimed Just for Men caused burns, scars and discoloration. 

Defendants moved to dismiss all claims for lack of personal jurisdiction. 

They also moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim, and they moved to strike class allegations. 

District Judge David Herndon froze the proceedings and ordered mediation through former Madison County judge Dan Stack. 

At some point Driscoll and Combe executed a tolling agreement for 4,946 plaintiffs with similar claims. 

This Jan. 4, Herndon’s last day as judge, he declared that mediation failed. 

The action passed to District Judge Staci Yandle, who stayed all motions pending a ruling on jurisdiction. 

Driscoll moved to amend complaints in February, and Yandle granted the motion. 

The amended complaint alleges that defendants worked jointly to bring Just for Men to consumers. 

Driscoll wrote that Combe Inc. controls its subsidiaries, that Combe Labs exists for no other purpose than conducting the business of Combe Inc., that Combe Products has primary responsibility for manufacturing Just for Men, though Combe Labs has also manufactured it, and that Combe Inc. has primary responsibility for production and marketing.

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