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$9 Billion Actos Jury Award Cut to $37 Million

$9 Billion Actos Jury Award Cut to $37 Million

October 28, 2014 — A federal judge in Louisiana has slashed more than 99% off a record-setting $9 billion jury verdict against Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co., allowing just $36.8 million in punitive damages to a plaintiff who developed bladder cancer after taking Actos.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty said the jury was allowed to award punitive damages, which are intended to punish defendants for engaging in willfully malicious conduct.

However, punitive damage awards are capped under federal law at about 25-times the compensatory damages. The award was cut to the maximum allowable under federal law.

The plaintiff, Terrence Allen, was awarded $1.5 million in compensation for his pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other costs. Takeda was ordered to pay $27.6 million in punitive damages and Lilly ordered to pay $9.2 billion. Takeda has vowed to appeal.

The $37 million award is a drop in the bucket compared to $4.5 billion in sales Actos reached at its peak in 2011. Sales plummeted after the FDA warned about studies linking Actos to a 40% increased risk of bladder cancer.

The $9 billion punitive damage award was partially motivated by Takeda’s destruction of massive amounts of documents on 46 employees, including top executives, who were involved in the development and marketing of Actos.

Attorneys accused Takeda of destroying documents to hide critical evidence that they hid the bladder cancer risks of Actos to protect billions in sales. Judge Doherty told the jury they were allowed to infer that the documents contained critical evidence.

Law360 reported that Judge Doherty wrote in the decision:

“It would be short-sighted not to recognize that corporations boasting sales of one product of almost $24 billion and a value of $40 billion are financially capable of simply absorbing losses that might seem large to the lay public, but are, in fact, small when compared to the profits made and degree of wealth involved.”

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