Verdicts & Settlements

$9B in punitives awarded in Actos drug case; jurors deliberated less than two hours

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The battle between plaintiffs lawyer Mark Lanier and the makers of the Actos diabetes drug isn’t over yet.

Federal jurors in Louisiana awarded $9 billion in punitive damages on Monday in Lanier’s suit claiming Japanese drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical and its American marketing partner Eli Lilly & Co. concealed the cancer risk associated with Actos, report the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Reuters, Bloomberg and the Associated Press.

Takeda was ordered to pay $6 billion and Elli Lilly to pay $3 billion, though Eli Lilly says in a statement that it will be indemnified by Takeda. Kenneth Greisman, senior vice president and general counsel of Takeda’s American subsidiary, said in a press release that the company would “vigorously challenge this outcome through all available legal means, including possible post-trial motions and an appeal.”

Lanier told Reuters that jurors deliberated for about an hour and 10 minutes before finding liability and another 45 minutes before awarding punitive damages. The compensatory award in the case was $1.475 million.

Bloomberg says the $9 billion award is the seventh-largest in U.S. history.

Lanier said it’s not certain that the large award will be upheld. “Nobody has gone out and bought a new home,” he told Reuters. “This is a conservative judge and a conservative court and she’s very ‘balls and strikes’. We’re not under any grand illusion.”

Lanier represented former Actos user Terrence Allen in the case. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty presided in the trial.

Doherty penalized the company for failing to preserve documents about Actos by instructing jurors they could infer the material supported Allen’s claim, according to the Bloomberg account.

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