Thursday, October 20, 2011

Propofol Verdict -- $104 Million, Las Vegas

Jury awards couple $104M in Vegas hepatitis case

The Associated Press
Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011 | 5:59 p.m.

A Nevada jury found drug companies liable Wednesday for $104 million in damages in a third product liability lawsuit stemming from a hepatitis C outbreak four years ago at Las Vegas outpatient colonoscopy clinics owned by a doctor now facing state and federal criminal charges.

The same Clark County District Court civil jury that on Monday awarded $14 million in compensatory damages to Michael Washington and his wife, Josephine Washington, spent less than two hours deliberating before deciding Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc. should pay the couple $60 million in punitive damages and Baxter Healthcare Corp. should pay $30 million.

Michael Washington, 71, a retired Air Force technical sergeant and Vietnam War veteran, declared himself relieved after four years of medical uncertainty, untold strain on his 31-year marriage and the more than four-week trial.

He alleged in his February 2008 civil lawsuit that he acquired hepatitis C during a colonoscopy in July 2007.

"This jury made a wise and good decision," he said outside the courtroom. "What came out in this trial, no one else should have to go through." …

Teva, Baxter Must Pay $90 Million Punitive Damages for Propofol

By Jef Feeley and Valerie Miller - Oct 13, 2011
A jury said Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) and Baxter International Inc. (BAX) must pay $90 million in punitive damages for selling reusable vials of the anesthetic Propofol that a colonoscopy patient blamed for his hepatitis.
Jurors in state court in Las Vegas yesterday ordered Teva Parenteral Medicines Inc. and Baxter Healthcare Corp. to pay so- called punishment damages for selling Propofol in vials large enough to be reused by doctors. Lawyers for Michael Washington and his wife alleged the retired U.S. Air Force mechanic was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in 2007 after getting the anesthetic from a reused vial.

Jurors in Washington’s case deliberated more than three hours yesterday before finding Teva should pay $60 million in punitive damages and Baxter should pay $30 million, bringing the total awarded to Washington and his wife, Josephine, to $104 million.
The same panel awarded the couple a total $14 million in compensatory damages Oct. 10. That was $4 million more than the Nevada residents’ lawyers had originally sought in actual damages.

“I’m relieved it’s over and I hope this verdict stops this from ever happening to anyone else,” Washington said in a interview outside the courtroom.

Teva makes Propofol and San Francisco-based McKesson Corp. (MCK) serves as its current U.S. distributor. Baxter sold the drug for Teva until 2009, according to court filings.
McKesson isn’t a defendant in Washington’s case. Teva has agreed to cover all damage awards arising from the Nevada cases on behalf of the distributors, according to court filings.

Oversized Vials

The drug is an intravenous agent used for sedation or anesthesia, according to Teva’s website. The patients’ lawyers allege Teva intentionally sold Propofol in oversized vials to encourage doctors to reuse them, even with the risk of spreading blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis.
Damage Guidelines
During arguments over punitive damages yesterday, Friedman told jurors Teva “repeatedly chose do to the wrong thing” in its Propofol marketing and should be punished for its miscues.

He asked the panel to award as much as nine times the $7 million it awarded Washington and his wife in compensatory damages against Teva and as much as six times against Baxter.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s guidelines for punitive damage verdicts limit the amount of acceptable awards to no more than nine times the compensatory damages handed down.

In their argument, lawyers for Teva and Baxter urged jurors to forgo handing down punitive damages, saying the companies’ Propofol marketing tactics weren’t “despicable.”

By ordering the drugmakers to pay a total of $14 million in compensatory damages, the panel made clear to company officials “that we didn’t get it right,” Glenn Kerner, one of Teva’s attorneys, said. “We heard you loud and clear.”

More Profitable

Lawyers for Washington argued that Teva pushed sales of large Propofol vials to Nevada colonoscopy clinics because they were more profitable while knowing the jumbo-sized containers increased the risk of the spread of blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis.

Attorneys for Teva and Baxter countered that improperly sanitized medical equipment, not reused Propofol containers, were to blame for the hepatitis outbreak and drugmakers shouldn’t be held responsible for colonoscopy clinics’ shoddy medical practices.

“This is the third time a jury has rejected claims” that doctors and their staffs alone caused the hepatitis outbreak, Rick Friedman, one of Washington’s lawyers, said in an interview.

The civil case is Washington v. Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada LLC, 07A572224, District Court for Clark County, Nevada (Las Vegas).
To contact the reporters on this story: Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware, at; Valerie Miller in Las Vegas
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

American Assoc. for Justice Report on Tobacco Verdicts

The AAJ is reporting as follows concerning punitive damages in tobacco-related cases:

In the first case of the so-called Engle progeny to reach the Florida Supreme Court, the court has declined to review a lower court’s decision upholding $3.3 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages for the widow of a smoker. (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Martin, No. SC11-483 (Fla. July 19, 2011).)

In Engle v. Liggett Group in 2006, the Florida Supreme Court threw out a $145 billion punitive damages award and decertified a class of smokers and their survivors. Instead, it allowed the plaintiffs to pursue their claims individually, using Engle’s findings regarding the tobacco companies’ liability. Certain findings were given res judicata effect. (945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006).)

After the trial court in Martin entered judgment on the jury verdict, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) appealed, arguing that Engle had been applied incorrectly. The appellate court disagreed, affirming the lower court’s judgment and noting that the punitive damages award “overcomes the presumption of excessiveness” under Florida law and “satisfies due process in view of the evidence of decades-long wanton conduct by RJR.”

“By leaving that ruling intact, the supreme court paved the way for juries to continue to consider all the evidence regarding the fraud and deceit of the cigarette industry and the tragic toll it's taken on American families,” said Robert Loehr of Pensacola, Florida, who represents the plaintiff.

Martin was the first Engle case to reach the appellate level. The plaintiff noted in her brief to the state supreme court, “After 17 years of litigation, the first Engle class member has plowed through RJR’s endlessly repetitious defenses to obtain a fully reviewed final judgment. Martin did not misapply Engle, but followed that decision exactly as directed.”

The Florida Supreme Court’s order “is important because we now know what the supreme court says is not inconsistent” with Engle, said M. Stephen Turner of Tallahassee, Florida, who also represents the plaintiff.

Loehr agreed. “The court provided clarity and assurance that court procedures like those in Martin are unlikely to be disturbed on appeal,” he said. “This assurance is important for all other Engle cases and should result in an increased number of cases being tried. The defendants have loudly and continuously complained, in court and in the press, that procedures similar to those used in Martin would result in reversal, which has had a chilling effect on the rate of trials.”

RJR has said it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The results of other Engle cases have been mixed. In July, a jury sided with the tobacco manufacturer in Weingart v. R.J. Reynolds; a jury awarded $6 million in compensatory damages and $34 million in punitive damages in Allen v. R.J. Reynolds in April. LawyersUSA reported that of 46 Engle cases tried by last June, plaintiffs had won 33.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

$1.8 Million Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson -- Levaquin

The AP (12/9) reports, "A federal court jury on Wednesday ordered healthcare company Johnson & Johnson to pay damages of $1.8 million in the case of an 82-year-old man who sued over claims the antibiotic Levaquin (levofloxacin) caused him severe tendon injuries." The trial "was the first on more than 2,600 other US lawsuits making similar claims."
        The New York Times "Prescriptions" blog (12/9) reports, "In a closely watched case, a federal jury on Wednesday awarded a Minnesota resident a total of $1.82 million in damages, finding that Johnson & Johnson had failed to adequately warn patients that its antibiotic Levaquin may cause tendon damage." The jury "awarded $1.12 million in punitive damages and $700,000 in compensatory damages to John Schedin, 82." A spokesman for Orthio-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals said, "We are disappointed with the jury's decision and will vigorously defend against plaintiff's claims on appeal."
        Bloomberg News (12/9, Fisk, Hawkins) reports, "In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration required J&J and makers of related drugs in the class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones to include warnings on the risk of tendon ruptures. The risk was higher in patients older than 60, those taking steroids, and recipients of kidney, hearty, or lung transplants, the FDA said." The plaintiffs "claim the label warning should have been improved earlier and remains inadequate" and they say "J&J and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen boosted sales by downplaying risks."
        The first of thousands of claims reaches jury award. The Minneapolis Star Tribune (12/8, Moore) reported, "The Minneapolis jury awarded $1.1 million in punitive damages and $630,000 in compensatory damages to 82-year-old John Schedin, who ruptured or partially ruptured both Achilles tendons after taking Levaquin and a steroid five years ago for bronchitis. At the time, neither Schedin nor his physician was aware of the risks associated with the drug combination." The Tribune adds the case "was the first to go to trial of thousands nationwide that Levaquin patients have filed with claims of tendon injuries. The blockbuster drug is commonly prescribed for various infections -- more than 430 million prescriptions have been written worldwide."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

$56 Million Shoulder Dystocia Birth Trauma Verdict

A New York hospital is attempting to overturn a $56 million verdict in a birth injury lawsuit won by a family last year after their son’s shoulder became stuck on the mother’s pelvic bone during delivery.

The shoulder dystocia lawsuit was filed by the Swanson family, alleging that Northern Westchester Hospital botched the delivery of their newborn child in October 2003, leading to permanent and debilitating injuries and nerve damage. The hospital announced last month that it was appealing the verdict.

A New York Supreme Court jury determined that the Dr. Carla Eng-Kohn and the Northern Westchester staff were negligent during the delivery of Bruce and Mary Swanson’s son. As a result of the shoulder dystocia birth injury, the child suffered brain damage, nerve damage and internal bleeding, as well as multiple bruises. The jury determined that the staff had failed to handle the situation in a timely manner, leading to permanent brain stem damage.

During shoulder dystocia, if an infant becomes stuck in the birth canal, there is a risk that the child will suffer from oxygen deprivation that can lead to brain damage, cerebral palsy and other disabilities. In addition, the child can suffer injuries to the brachial plexus nerves in the baby’s shoulders, either from pressure while being stuck or due to the doctor using too much force to deliver the infant. This can cause Erb’s Palsy (Brachial Plexus Injury), which is a form of nerve damage that can severely and permanently limit the ability of the child to use their arm.

The Swansons’ child suffers from developmental delays, aspiration pneumonitis and speech impairment. They filed their lawsuit against the hospital in 2006. The verdict was one of the highest jury awards handed down in the state last year.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

$3,991,000 Million Maryland Cerebral Palsy Verdict Awarded to Family

In Maryland, a jury awarded the family of Ryan Dineen $3,991,000 for their cerebral palsy lawsuit. Ryan is now 9. His family’s lawsuit alleged that medical staff members at Frederick Memorial Hospital of medical malpractice related to Ryan’s birth in May 2000. Named as defendants in the civil complaint were the hospital, three nurses, and three doctors. However, the jury found only two doctors, Dr. Brian Raider and Dr. Edward Chen, negligent for Ryan’s birth injury. According to the lawsuit, Suzette Dineen, an Adamstown resident, was 36 weeks pregnant with Ryan when she was admitted to the Maryland hospital for vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. She claims that after she arrived at the hospital, staff members failed to properly monitor her baby’s fetal heartbeat. The complaint contends that even though Rader, who was the emergency room doctor, and Chen, who is an obstetrician, were told about Suzette’s condition, both men never came to see her. It wasn’t until 3 hours after she arrived at the hospital that the medical team noticed that her baby’s heart rate was too low and they performed an emergency cesarean birth. Ryan had no heart rate and wasn’t breathing when he was born. Doctors were able to revive him but he sustained permanent brain damage and lifelong disabilities and now suffers from cerebral palsy.

For information on representation on catastrophic cerebral palsy cases in Idaho, please contact the Boise, Idaho law firm of Mahoney Law, PLLC. (208) 345-6364.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New York jury awards $8.75M to Volvo accident victim.

In a press release (12/4), Kreindler & Kreindler LLP wrote, "A New York jury has directed the Volvo Car Corporation to pay $8.75 million to a Yonkers man whose leg was crushed when he was hit by a 1987 Volvo 740 wagon that was missing a clutch starter safety switch, the victim's law firm, Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, announced today. The May 2002 accident happened when the car lurched forward and pinned the victim, Manuel Reis, between a house and the vehicle."