Marriage Equality USA

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Lawsuits - Resolved

SmithKline Beecham Corporation v. Abbott Laboratories (aka ‘the gay juror case”)

Case #: 11-17357, 11-17373
Date Filed:
Ruling Date: 21 January 2014 on the substantive issues of the case; 24 June 2014, on a possible re-hearing


  • This case resulted from the decision by Abbott Laboratories to exclude a gay prospective juror in antitrust litigation against GlaxoSmithKline PLC over the HIV drug Norvir. Abbott contended that it didn't discriminate and that striking gay jurors shouldn't be barred by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Batson v. Kentucky.
  • Illinois-based Abbott, which largely prevailed in the case and was fighting GSK’s bid for a new trial, said that while anti-discrimination protections based on race and gender exist during jury selection, there are no protections based on sexual orientation.
  • The controversy centers on the interpretation of the high court's 1986 ruling in Batson, which barred the use of race-based peremptory challenges and was later extended to cover gender-related removal of jurors.
  • 21 January 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “heightened scrutiny” is the new standard by which all future sexual orientation discrimination cases will get decided; a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit extended the equal protection rule and analysis of Batson v. Kentucky (1986) regarding juror exclusions to those based on sexual orientation; therefore deciding that the gay man was improperly excluded from jury service because of his sexual orientation; and, ordered a new trial for GlaxoSmithKline Plc against an Abbott Laboratories spinoff because Abbott excluded the potential juror.
  • 27 March 2014, one or more judges at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals requested re-review of this previously decided appeal (which both parties already decided not to pursue any further), so the court asked both parties to state by 17 April 2014 whether their case should be re-heard by all 11 judges of the Ninth Circuit, after which the 11 judges will vote whether to re-review the case.
  • 17 April 2014, a brief opposing re-hearing was submitted by SmithKlineand a brief supporting re-hearing was submitted by Abbot Laboratories.
  • 24 June 2014 the Court ruled denying the request for a re-hearing.

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