Actos Verdict of $6.5M in First Bladder Cancer Lawsuit Reinstated on Appeal

A California appeals court has decided to reinstate a $6.5 million damage award returned by the first jury to hear evidence about the link between Actos and bladder cancer, overturning a post-trial ruling by the judge who presided over the case.

The verdict came in a lawsuit filed by Jack Cooper, which was the first of more than 4,000 Actos lawsuits to reach a jury involving allegations that Takeda Pharmaceuticals failed to adequately warn that users may face an increased risk of bladder cancer.

Cooper was diagnosed with bladder cancer in November 2011, following use of Actos for more than two years. His case was given an expedited trial date in California state court due to his grave medical condition.

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Following more than two months of trial, the jury determined that Takeda should be held liable for providing inadequate warnings about the cancer risks with Actos to Cooper and his physicians, awarding $5 million in damages to Jack and $1.5 million to his wife, Nancy Cooper, for loss of consortium.

Following post-trial motions, the verdict was overturned when the trial judge excluded expert witness testimony offered on behalf of the plaintiff.

In an opinion (PDF) entered by the California Court of Appeals on July 15, that decision was overturned and the original verdict was reinstated.

“By requiring that the expert rule out all other possible causes for Jack Cooper’s bladder cancer, even where there was no substantial evidence that other such causes might be relevant, the court exceeded the proper boundaries of its gatekeeping functions in determining the admissibility of the complex scientific testimony,” the appellate court ruled. “We also conclude that the evidence supported giving a jury instruction on multiple causation. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment notwithstanding the verdict and order granting a new trial, as well as the subsequent judgment entered in favor of Takeda, and remand the matter to the trial court with directions to enter a new judgment based on the jury’s verdict.”

Several years after the verdict was returned in the Cooper trial, Takeda agreed to pay $2.4 billion in Actos settlements to resolve claims brought by thousands of individuals nationwide.

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