When an AndroGel lawsuit brought against pharmaceutical manufacturer AbbVie resulted in a $150 million award for the Oregon resident who filed it, the legal world took notice. The award was unique not only for the amount, but also in the way the amount was distributed.
A Chicago jury awarded plaintiff Jesse Mitchell nothing in compensation for the injuries or medical costs he incurred after a heart attack he attributed to the testosterone replacement product. Instead, the jury awarded all $150 million as punitive damages; a direct punishment for AbbVie’s conduct in the sale and marketing of AndroGel. The verdict was powerful enough to drive AbbVie shares down a full percentage point when the news broke.
There was a wide expectation that the award would either be dramatically reduced or thrown out altogether thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that, at its core, essentially says that awards that are given punitively in these types of cases must be “reasonable.” A jury can be as angry as they want when they issue a punitive award and send a very clear message with an amount. In the end, however, that amount will be subject to scrutiny and can either be reduced or negated.
Such was the case when U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly tossed the $150 million verdict issued in Jesse Mitchell’s testosterone therapy lawsuit in December of last year.
A retrial of Mitchell’s case concluded in March and led to a greatly reduced award; however, this time the jury did find negligence on the drugmaker’s part and award both compensatory and punitive damages. The new award was issued as $200,000 in compensation and $3 million in punitive damages for what the jury saw as the manufacturer’s negligence in the AndroGel matter.
AbbVie has said that it plans to appeal this verdict as well. It is the second verdict that AbbVie has lost in a consolidated group of lawsuits filed over testosterone replacement products and the roles that the drug makers may have played in hyping a mostly fictitious “condition” given the moniker of “Low-T.” Over 6,000 such testosterone lawsuits have been filed and AbbVie still has over 4,000 cases pending against it alone.