Judge Declines to Throw Out $1.2 Million Pradaxa Verdict
Doctors often prescribe blood thinners, such as Pradaxa, to help prevent the formation of potentially deadly blood clots. Unfortunately, in recent years there have been an alarming number of reported side effects caused by Pradaxa, including uncontrolled bleeding, hemorrhages, and strokes. Many patients and their families have sued Pradaxa’s manufacturer, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., alleging the company knew of the problems with the drug yet failed to disclose the risks to patients and their doctors.
Judge: Federal Law Does Not “Preempt” State-Law Fraud Claim
Recently, a West Virginia jury found Boehringer Ingelheim liable for fraud in one Pradaxa lawsuit. The plaintiffs are the children of a now-deceased woman who was damaged due to the use of Pradaxa. They sued Boehringer Ingelheim on a number of legal grounds.
After several years of pre-trial proceedings, the case finally made it to a jury last October. The jury was asked to rule on five issues: strict liability failure to warn, negligent failure to warn, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, and fraud. The jury ruled for the plaintiff on the fraud count, but in favor of Boehringer Ingelheim on the remaining four charges.
Based solely on the fraud count, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $50,000 in economic damages, $200,000 in non-economic damages (pain and suffering), and $1 million in punitive damages, bringing the final award to just over $1.2 million.
Boehringer Ingelheim asked the judge to set aside the jury’s verdict on the fraud claim or, in the alternative, to order a new trial. The company argued the fraud charge was based solely on claims made in the “Medication Guide” it distributed with Pradaxa. But the trial judge previously ruled that federal law “preempted any claim by Plaintiffs based on alleged defects in the Medication Guide.”
But as U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers explained, the preemption ruling did not automatically bar the plaintiffs’ fraud allegations under state law. Indeed, there was evidence Boehringer Ingelheim made other fraudulent statements to the plaintiffs’ mother, such as through television advertisements for Pradaxa or warnings contained on the product’s physician label.
Boehringer Ingelheim argued that the patient never read the physician label, so it could not form the basis of a fraud claim. Again, Judge Chambers disagreed. He said under West Virginia law, a patient can “rely” on representations and warnings made on a product label if they did not read it “firsthand.”
Finally, the judge declined to throw out the $1 million award of punitive damages, which Boehringer Ingelheim argued was excessive. The court noted the jury heard sufficient evidence that the drug manufacturer “acted with conscious, reckless, and outrageous indifference to the health, safety, and welfare of others.”
Speak with a Knoxville Dangerous Drugs Attorney Today
Verdicts like this one send a strong message to all drug manufacturers that they will be held accountable for placing dangerous and defective products on the market. If you, or someone you love, has been adversely affected by the use of a blood thinner and needs to speak with an experienced Tennessee Pradaxa lawyer, contact Fox Willis Burnette, PLLC, Attorneys at Law, today to schedule a free consultation.