July 2, 2014 — Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Actos (pioglitazone), intentionally deleted or destroyed documents that might have contained critical evidence in over 3,000 lawsuits pending against the company, according to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty.
Normally, companies have “document retention” policies that allow old documents to be destroyed. However, when legal issues arise — which is not uncommon for a major pharmaceutical company — the law requires preservation of documents that could contain evidence.
In an order dated June 30, Judge Doherty found that Takeda acted in bad faith and ordered the company to continue working to restore the documents. She concluded:
“Takeda deleted that information; the information deleted is relevant to Plaintiffs’ claims in the multidistrict litigation; the absence of that information is prejudicial to Plaintiffs in the MDL; Takeda intentionally deleted the information; and that Takeda did so with bad faith.”
Judge Doherty penalized Takeda by telling a jury in Louisiana that they could infer that Takeda may have intentionally destroyed documents that were critical to Allen’s case. In April, the jury awarded an eye-popping $9 billion in punitive damages to Terrence Allen, a man who developed bladder cancer after taking Actos.
The jury found that Takeda knew about the risks of bladder cancer in the early 2000, but failed to adequately warn doctors and patients about the risk. Lawyers allege that Takeda was obligated to preserve documents produced after July 2002. Instead, hard-drives were erased on the computers of 46 employees and executives who were involved in the development, marketing, and sales of Actos.
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