Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly lost a bid to have a judge throw out a combined $9 billion punitive-damage award over claims the drugmakers hid the cancer risks of their Actos diabetes medicine. This landmark award was the first of several thousand federal cases to go to trial earlier this year.
In April, in the Allen case, a federal jury hammered Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, awarding $1.5 million in compensatory damages and another $9 billion in punitive damages, for failing to warn patients and doctors about the risk of bladder cancer from Actos use.
The punitive damage award, one of the largest in a pharmaceutical product liability lawsuit, is designed to punish Takeda and Eli Lilly for putting profits over people.
According to legal pundits and armchair generals, the $9 billion punitive damage award against Takeda Pharmaceutical and Eli Lilly cannot stand. It bears no relationship to the $1.5 million in actual damages the jury awarded.
The US Supreme Court has said punitive damages should be proportional to actual, compensatory damages, possibly 10 times the amount of compensation, which would be $15 million.
Federal Actos Bellwether Trials
This case was the first federal “bellwether” trial held in the Western District of Louisiana, here there are more than 3,500 Actos lawsuit claims consolidated as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The complaints are centralized for coordinated proceedings during discovery and a series of early trial dates known as bellwether trials.
Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly $9B Award “Excessive”
Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, filed motions attempting to overturn the Actos verdict, requesting no verdict or a new trial, arguing that the verdict was “so excessive as to per se demonstrate passion and prejudice.”
Actos Litigation Update
Several thousand cases have been filed in state courts throughout the country. At least four trials have already taken place at the state level, with conflicting results.
In May 2013, a California jury awarded $6.5 million in damages but following post-trial motions, that verdict was reversed after the state court judge excluded the plaintiffs’ expert witness testimony.
In September 2013, a Maryland jury found that Takeda failed to warn about the risk of bladder cancer and awarded $1.77 million in damages. That verdict did not hold because of Maryland law, known as contributory negligence. Here the jury also found that the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care for his own health, which wiped out the negligence of the drug manufacturers.
Recently in Nevada state court, the jury found that both Actos and the plaintiff’s history as a smoker contributed to the development of bladder cancer. Here, the plaintiff also ordered generic versions of Actos from online pharmacies, which raised questions as to whether Actos or unknown factors in the generic versions could have caused bladder cancer.
Another trial involving two plaintiffs held in Las Vegas earlier this year also resulted in defense verdicts.
Shezad Malik is an Internal Medicine and Cardiology specialist, a licensed Texas Medical Doctor and Defective Medical Device and Dangerous Drug Attorney. Dr Shezad Malik Law Firm has offices based in Fort Worth and Dallas and represents people who have suffered catastrophic and serious personal injuries including wrongful death, caused by the negligence or recklessness of others.