Litigation

Pennsylvania State Court Jury Awards Plaintiff $2 Million In Actos Bladder Cancer Case

PHILADELPHIA — (Mealey’s) A Pennsylvania state court jury on Oct. 3 awarded an Actos bladder cancer patient $2.05 million in economic and noneconomic damages but declined to award punitive damages (Frances Wisniewski v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc., et al., No. 120702272, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.). 

The jury in the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court found that Takeda Pharmaceuticals America Inc. and related entities failed to warn Frances Wisniewski or her doctor about the bladder cancer risk and that the failure was a substantial contributing factor to Wisniewski’s bladder cancer. 

The jury awarded Wisniewski $250,000 in past and future economic damages and $1.8 million in past and future noneconomic damages.  The jury was asked to award punitive damages but awarded none. 

Smoking Defense?

The jury’s vote was 8-1, according to a statement by the Miller Firm in Orange, Va., which represented Wisniewski.  “Takeda’s attempt to blame the plaintiff’s thirty year smoking history failed; and Takeda’s attempt to exonerate itself by its ‘risk management’ study failed,” the firm said. 

In a statement, Takeda Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kenneth D. Greisman said the company believes the evidence showed Wisniewski’s condition was not caused by Actos.  He said Takeda disagrees with the verdict and is considering its options, including post-trial motions and an appeal. 

Pending are Takeda’s motions for a compulsory nonsuit and for a directed verdict. 

2 Cancer Surgeries

Wisniewski of Norristown, Pa., said she was prescribed Actos to help lower her blood glucose for about seven years and was diagnosed in August 2011 with bladder cancer, for which she had surgery in 2007 and 2008.  In her 2012 complaint filed in the Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court, she alleges that Takeda knew about the bladder cancer risk but failed to adequately warn doctors or patients using the drug. 

Trial began Sept. 8.  Judge Shelley Robins-New presided. 

There have been seven Actos bladder cancer trials in the past 18 months, six in state courts and one in the federal multidistrict litigation court.  There have been four plaintiff verdicts ranging from $1.7 million to $9 billion, but one verdict was vacated after a plaintiff expert was excluded and another was vacated because of the plaintiff’s contributory negligence. 

Three trials resulted in jury defense verdicts. 

$9 Billion MDL Verdict

The $9 billion verdict against Takeda and co-defendant Eli Lilly & Co. came in the first MDL bellwether trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.  After the trial, Takeda was sanctioned for failing to preserve discovery material. 

The federal judge denied Takeda’s motion for judgment notwithstanding verdict.  Takeda’s post-trial motion for a new trial remains pending.  All MDL bellwether cases have been stayed pending an appeal of the verdict. 

The Miller firm says three more state court Actos bladder cancer trials are set for October, November and December. 

Counsel

Wisniewski is represented by Michael J. Miller, Tayes Shah, Timothy Litzenburg and Nathan D. Cromley of the Miller Firm. 

Takeda is represented by Robert A. Limbacher, Margaret C. O’Neill, Shevon D. Rockett and Eben S. Flaster of Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann in Philadelphia, Craig A. Thompson of Venable in Baltimore and Rebecca J. Schwartz and Scott W. Sayler of Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Mo. 

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