After 33 grueling days of hotly contested trial testimony, the first federal Actos bladder cancer lawsuit trial has ended. The jury is scheduled to hear closing arguments on Monday and then deliberations will begin.
Federal Actos Trial: The Details
Terrance Allen’s trial began on February 3, as the first chosen “bellwether” case in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). The federal MDL allows the pre-trial coordination and centralization of all Actos bladder cancer product liability lawsuits filed nationwide. The verdict of this trial is being closely anticipated by both sides, a significant plaintiff’s win could pave the way to a global settlement, especially if there is a finding of gross negligence on part of Takeda, which would allow the award of punitive damages.
Judge Doherty ruled that Takeda Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Actos, acted in bad faith during the discovery process. As a result, the juries can be told that Takeda Pharmaceuticals hid or destroyed important thousands of documents.
Bellwether Federal Actos Trials
There are currently about 3,000 bladder cancer cases pending in the Actos MDL, before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Doherty in the Western District of Louisiana. Bellwether trials, are common place in mass tort pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, where it is impractable to ligate thousands of cases. Furthermore, bellwether trials are established to determine how juries respond to evidence and repeated testimony.
Actos (pioglitazone) is a drug to treat type 2 diabetes. It was a blockbuster drug in terms of sales, that has been used by millions of Americans. In 2010 reports surfaced about a potential link between Actos and bladder cancer. Thousands of product liability lawsuits have been filed against Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, the drug mamanufacturers for failure to research the medication and failure to provide sufficient warnings to patients and doctors.
Actos State Court Verdicts
Three state court trials have taken place at the state level, with varying outcomes.
In May 2013, a California jury awarded $6.5 million in damages to Jack Cooper, who was deadly ill from bladder cancer. But that verdict was thrown out after the state court judge excluded the plaintiffs’ expert witness testimony.
In September 2013, in Maryland state court, the jury found that Takeda was liable for lack of adequate warnings about the risk of bladder cancer from Actos and awarding $1.77 million in damages. Again, the jury findings were thrown out, because under Maryland law’s contributory negligence standard, the jury also found that the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care for his own health, because of his smoking history. Smoking is a powerful risk factor for causing bladder cancer.
Recently in Nevada state court, the jury found that both Actos and the plaintiff’s history as a smoker contributed to the development of bladder cancer. Confounding the case was that the plaintiff also ordered generic versions of Actos from online pharmacies, which raised questions as to whether Actos or unknown factors in the generic versions could have contributed to the bladder cancer.
Another state case is currently underway in Las Vegas. The case involves claims by two different plaintiffs who say they developed bladder cancer as a result of taking the drug.