U.S. judge tosses verdict against AbbVie in AndroGel case
A U.S. judge on Friday overturned a $150 million verdict against AbbVie Inc that was the first to result from lawsuits claiming that the company fraudulently misrepresented the risks of its testosterone replacement drug AndroGel.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly in Chicago ruled that the findings by the jury that rendered the verdict in July in favor of Oregon resident Jesse Mitchell were “logically incompatible.”
The jury awarded Mitchell $150 million in punitive damages even though it did not award him any compensatory damages. The verdict came in one of around 4,510 cases AbbVie says it faces nationally over injuries blamed on AndroGel.
The jury concluded that AbbVie was not negligent or strictly liable for a heart attack that Mitchell said he suffered after using AndroGel, but concluded that the company falsely marketed the drug.
“The irreconcilable conflict between the jury’s finding of liability on the fraudulent misrepresentation claim and award of zero compensatory damages requires a new trial on this claim,” Kennelly wrote.
Kennelly also vacated the punitive damages award. He scheduled a new trial to take place on March 5.
Christopher Seeger, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the litigation, said they looked forward to re-trying the case. Chicago-based AbbVie did not respond to requests for comment.
The verdict was the first to emerge from a series of test trials in the federal litigation consolidated before Kennelly aimed at helping both sides gauge the range of damages and define settlement options.
A second jury in October ordered AbbVie to pay $140 million in punitive damages and $140,000 in compensatory damages in the case of a Tennessee man who claimed the drug caused him to suffer a heart attack.
Mitchell suffered a heart attack in 2012 after almost five years of treatment with AndroGel, but recovered after several months, according to his lawsuit.
Other pharmaceutical companies are facing similar lawsuits over their testosterone replacement therapies.
Eli Lilly and Co, which makes Axiron and as of November faced 538 lawsuits, has reached a global settlement ahead of the first trial it was scheduled to face in January, according to a court filing on Thursday.
Terms were not disclosed. Lilly did not respond to a request for comment.
In November, jurors sided with Endo International Plc by finding that its Auxilium unit was not responsible for the heart attack a man suffered while using the company’s testosterone replacement drug Testim.
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 Leslie Adler and Diane Craft)