AbbVie wins reversal of $140 million verdict in case over AndroGel risks
(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Thursday overturned a $140.1 million verdict against AbbVie Inc in a lawsuit by a man who claimed the company misrepresented the risks of its testosterone replacement drug AndroGel, causing him to suffer a heart attack.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in Chicago ordered a retrial in the lawsuit brought by Tennessee resident Jeffrey Konrad, whose case is one of thousands AbbVie faces nationally over injuries blamed on AndroGel.
In October, jurors awarded Konrad $140,000 in compensatory damages and $140 million in punitive damages after finding that AbbVie was negligent and made misrepresentations related to AndroGel that helped cause his 2010 heart attack.
But Kennelly said the jury’s finding on the negligence claim was inconsistent with its decision to find AbbVie not liable on another claim as both involved determining if AndroGel was unreasonably dangerous and caused his heart attack.
“When this happens, the court cannot accept one of the two inconsistent verdicts while discarding the other; both of them have to go,” Kennelly wrote.
AbbVie did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A lawyer for Konrad also did not respond to a request for comment.
Chicago-based AbbVie has said it faces 4,500 cases nationally in which plaintiffs claim the company did not adequately warn about risks of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots that could result from using AndroGel.
The verdict in Konrad’s lawsuit came in one of a series of test trials in federal litigation consolidated before Kennelly over AndroGel aimed at helping both sides gauge the range of damages and define settlement options.
Konrad had alleged that he had been using AndroGel for two months in 2010 when he suffered a heart attack. He has since recovered from his injuries.
Thursday’s ruling marked the second time Kennelly has ordered a retrial in one of the test, or bellwether, cases.
In December, he overturned a verdict in which jurors awarded $150 million in punitive damages but no compensatory damages to Oregon resident Jesse Mitchell, who said he suffered a heart attack after using AndroGel.
Mitchell’s case was retried, and jurors in March ordered AbbVie to pay him $3.2 million.
The lawsuits by Konrad and Mitchell are among four to date that have gone to trial over AndroGel. The company won the other two cases that went to trial.
The case is In Re: Testosterone Replacement Therapy Products Liability Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 14-cv-01748.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregor