$4 Million In Compensatory Damages Awarded By Connecticut Jury In Prempro Breast Cancer Trial

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - (Mealey's) A Connecticut federal jury on April 18 awarded a plaintiff and her husband $4 million in compensatory damages after finding that the hormone replacement therapy drug Prempro caused the plaintiff's breast cancer (Margaret B. Fraser, et al. v. Wyeth, Inc., et al., No. 3:04-1373, D. Conn.). 

(Verdict form. Document #28-120503-002V.) 

The jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut also found that punitive damages should be awarded to Margaret B. and Joseph Fraser.  The punitive damages phase is under way. 

The jury found that the Frasers proved by a preponderance of evidence that Margaret Fraser's use of Prempro was a legal cause of her breast cancer; that defendant Wyeth failed to provide adequate warnings to the prescribing physician about the known or knowable risk of breast cancer associated with Prempro; that if Wyeth warned the doctor, Margaret Fraser would not have taken Prempro; that Prempro was an unreasonably dangerous product; that Wyeth was negligent in testing, studying and investigating the risks of Prempro; and that Wyeth negligently misrepresented the risks and benefits of Prempro to the prescribing doctor. 

Compensatory Award, Punitives 

The jury awarded Margaret Fraser $3,750,000 in compensatory damages for her injury and awarded Joseph Fraser $250,000 in compensatory damages for loss of consortium. 

Finally, the jury found that the plaintiffs proved by a preponderance of evidence that punitive damages should be awarded. 

The trial began March 26 and went to the jury on April 18. 

Margaret Fraser says she took Prempro hormone replacement therapy between 1995 and 2001, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She underwent a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and is now cancer-free. 

Summary Judgment Survival 

In 2004, the Frasers sued Prempro manufacturer Wyeth in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.  The case was transferred into the Prempro multidistrict litigation in the Eastern District of Arkansas before being remanded to the District of Connecticut in 2010. 

On remand, Wyeth moved for summary judgment on all of the Frasers' claims.  Judge Janet Bond Arterton denied summary judgment on the failure-to-warn, proximate causation, design defect and failure-to-test claims and said the learned intermediary doctrine did not bar the plaintiffs' claims. 

Wyeth won summary judgment on the breach of warranty claim and Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act claims. 

Length Of Drug Use 

Wyeth had argued that available medical records showed that Margaret Fraser took Prempro for only three years, not five years.  The judge said there was no evidence to support that argument. 

Wyeth is now owned by Pfizer Inc. 

The Frasers are represented by Christopher W. Goode, Gregory J. Bubalo, Julie Ferraro, Paula S. Bliss, David B. Rattliff, Kimberly A. Dougherty and Steven B. Rotman of Bubalo Rotman in Lexington, Ky., and Manish Indravadan Shah and Neal L. Moskow of Ury & Moskow in Fairfield, Conn.   

Wyeth is represented by Eric M. Falkenberry and Tiffany Lee Christian of DLA Piper in New York; Adrienne D. Gonzalez, Julie B. Du Pont and Pamela J. Yates of Kaye Scholer in New York;  Catherine B. Stevens and Michele A. Roberts of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in New York; Daniel L. Cendan of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in New York;  Deborah Skelley Russo of Ropes & Gray in Boston; Francis H. Morrison III of Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider in Hartford, Conn.; James I. Glasser and Jeffrey R. Babbin of Wiggin & Dana in New Haven; Jane W. Bockus of Cox Smith Matthews in San Antonio; Kathy A. Cochran of Wilson Smith Cochran Dickerson in Seattle; Kelley A. Evans of Snell & Wilmer in  Las Vegas; Matthew V. Johnson, Richmond T. Moore and William R. Murray of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.; Michael R. Kaltt of Gordon & Rees in Austin, Texas; and Spring C. Potoczak of Porzio, Bromberg & Newman in Morristown, N.J. 

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