The first two weeks of April brought large verdicts for two plaintiffs injured by dangerous drugs. Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., and its partner Eli Lilly & Co. have been ordered to pay a combined total of $9 billion in punitive damages after determining their product, Actos, which was originally manufactured for treatment of diabetes, knew about the cancer risks of the drug. The punitive damage award was in addition to the $1.5 million in special damages to the Plaintiff, who had developed bladder cancer after taking Actos. This was the first federal trial in the multidistrict litigation dealing with Actos claims and was awarded by a federal jury in Lafayette, LA. Takeda’s shares in Tokyo tumbled 8.4 percent after the verdict. Takeda and Lilly are expected to appeal the verdict, according to their representatives.
Although compensatory damages are meant to compensate a Plaintiff for actual damages, and punitive damages are designed to punish and deter bad behavior, the two types of damages must bear some relationship to one another, according to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The Court could rule that the $9 billion in punitive damages is excessive and unconstitutional, which has traditionally happened with verdicts that demonstrate punitive damages over nine times those of compensatory damages. The Louisiana jury was presented with the financial information regarding the defendants when determining the amount of the punitive damages, which demonstrated each defendant was worth tens of billions of dollars. Large punitive damages are often a sign that a jury wishes to make an impact on the defendants according to legal experts.
In a separate trial in a Dallas state court, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $1.2 million in compensatory damages to a woman injured by a transvaginal mesh (TVM) implant. As a result of a defective design in the product, the Plaintiff suffered severe injuries when the mesh “bladder sling” eroded inside of her. This verdict is the first mesh case which deals with a “bladder sling” product, rather than a pelvic organ prolapse product. Many patients with transvaginal mesh slings have been forced to undergo additional surgeries to correct problems with their implants. Although there have been many problems with the mechanically cut TVT-O mesh, it is still being used along with other products such as the TVT-Secur and TVT-Abrevo. The Dallas verdict is expected to set a precedent for future transvaginal mesh cases.
The Actos and TVM verdicts are big wins for those injured by defective drugs and medical products as they set a tone for future verdicts. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a defective drug, contact an attorney well-versed in handling mass tort litigation.