Just weeks after a federal jury in Louisiana gut-punched Takeda and Eli Lilly ($LLY) with a breathtaking $9 billion verdict over diabetes drug Actos, an Illinois jury promptly let the company off the hook.
After four weeks of testimony, Bloomberg reports, it took the jury in Chicago less than two hours to decide the drug was not responsible for the bladder cancer of a man whose family was seeking $10 million in damages. The case was brought by the widow of William Whitlatch, 57, who died in 2006, 5 years before Takeda added bladder cancer risks to the Actos label. Bloomberg writes lawyers for Takeda pointed out he was diabetic and a former smoker, both of which increased his risks for getting cancer.
"We empathize with the Whitlatch family but agree with the verdict," Takeda generic counsel, Kenneth D. Greisman, said in a statement released by Takeda. It also said that "Takeda prevailed in three previous Actos trials and is challenging the outcome of the fourth."
That fourth is a whopper. The case last month, heard in Louisiana, was the first to reach federal court. The family of a former Actos user sought at least $15 million in damages. The jury members awarded the family only $1.5 million in actual damages and stunned the courtroom when they announced they believed punitive damages of $6 billion were in line for Takeda and $3 billion for partner Eli Lilly.
Takeda is appealing that decision, and those damages are expected to be severely reduced even if Takeda is unsuccessful. The Supreme Court has ruled that punitive damages should bear some relationship to actual damages, perhaps 10 times the level. In two other cases in which plaintiffs won much smaller awards over Actos, judges set those aside and found in favor of Takeda, saying lawyers did not prove a link.
A case in Las Vegas right now may test the limits of actual damages. Two women, 80 and 81, are seeking $1 billion in actual damages. They make the same kind of allegations: Takeda hid the cancer dangers of taking Actos.
- here's the Takeda statement
- read the Bloomberg story
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