LAFAYETTE, La. — (Mealey’s) The first federal court Actos bladder cancer trial ended April 7 in a $9 billion verdict against co-defendants Takeda Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. and Eli Lilly & Co. Inc., according to Takeda (In Re: Actos [Pioglitazone] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2299, No. 6:11-md-2299, Allen v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America Inc., et al., No. 12-64, E.D. La.).
According to an April 8 press release issued by Takeda, the nine-member jury in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, where the Actos bladder cancer multidistrict litigation is assigned, awarded Terrence and Susan Allen $1,475,000 in compensatory damages, finding Takeda 75 percent liable and Lilly 25 percent liable.
Takeda said the jury awarded the Allens $6 billion in punitive damages against Takeda and $3 billion against Lilly.
Takeda Will Challenge
“Takeda respectfully disagrees with the verdict and we intend to vigorously challenge this outcome through all available legal means, including possible post-trial motions and an appeal,” Kenneth D. Greisman, senior vice president and general counsel of Takeda, said in a press release. “We have empathy for the Allens, but we believe the evidence did not support a finding that ACTOS caused his bladder cancer. We also believe we demonstrated that Takeda acted responsibly with regard to ACTOS.”
Actos is an oral prescription drug prescribed to help lower blood glucose in type 2 diabetics. Terrence Allen alleged that the drug caused his bladder cancer.
Allen’s case became part of the Actos bladder cancer MDL in the Western District of Louisiana, where the docket lists 2,923 pending cases. It is the first bellwether trial.
Testimony began Jan. 27 and ended April 2. Judge Rebecca F. Doherty denied Allen’s motion for a directed verdict and the defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law in a bench ruling at that time.
The jury began deliberating late April 7 and returned its verdicts several hours later.
Judge Doherty previously denied Takeda’s motion for summary judgment on the issue of federal preemption. She also said the jury may be allowed to make an adverse inference about Takeda’s loss or destruction of evidence.
The trial has also featured an allegation of contempt of court by a witness who formerly worked for co-defendant Eli Lilly & Co. Inc.
The Allen case is the first MDL bellwether trial and the fourth case overall to go to trial. Two resulted in verdicts that were later overturned, and one ended in a defense verdict. A fifth case involving two plaintiffs is in trial in the Clark County District Court in Nevada.
In April 2013, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury awarded a plaintiff $6.5 million in the first-ever trial. In a post-verdict ruling, the plaintiff’s sole causation expert was excluded and the judge granted Takeda a nonsuit.
In September, a jury in the Baltimore City Circuit Court in Maryland awarded a plaintiff $1.76 million. But because the jury found that under Maryland law there was contributory negligence on the plaintiff’s part, the judge granted judgment for Takeda.
In December, a jury in the Clark County District Court in Nevada found that Takeda did not fail to warn a plaintiff and his doctor about the risk of bladder cancer.
Allen is represented by Richard Arsenault of Neblett, Beard & Arsenault in Alexandria, La.; W. Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm in Houston; Neil Overholtz of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz in Pensacola, Fla.; Stephanie O’Conner of Douglas & London in New York; and Paul Pennock of Weitz & Luxenberg in New York.
Lilly and Takeda are represented by Sara J. Gourley and Sherry A. Knutson of Sidley Austin in Chicago, J.E. McElligott Jr. of Davidson, Meaux, Sonnier, McElligott, Fontenot, Gideon & Edwards in Lafayette and Bruce R. Parker of Venable in Baltimore.
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