The US Supreme Court rejected an appeal of a ruling that ordered a retrial on how much punitive damages should be awarded to a woman who developed breast cancer after taking the Prempro and Premarin hormone replacement therapy drugs, according to thisreport. Pfizer argued a retrial limited to punitive damages had violated its constitutional right to a jury trial and the judge in that case had improperly admitted testimony of a scientific expert.
An Arkansas jury in 2008 sided with Donna Scroggin in her lawsuit against two companies bought by Pfizer - Wyeth and Pharmacia - which was the first federal verdict against Wyeth. Scroggin was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, after taking hormone replacement therapy drugs for 11 years, and was awarded compensatory damages of $2.7 million. She was also awarded punitive damages of $19.4 million against Wyeth, and $7.8 million against Pharmacia.
A US appeals court upheld the compensatory damages and also ruled that a federal judge correctly set aside punitive damages against Pharmacia as a matter of law. Last November, the appeals court ordered a new trial on punitive damages involving Wyeth (background here and here). In its appeal, Pfizer opposed a partial retrial limited to punitive damages, arguing this confuse the jury and deny its right to a fair trial. The drugmaker wanted an entirely new trial.