An Indiana woman who allegedly suffered a severe gastrointestinal bleed due to her use of Xarelto has indicated that she will appeal a trial court’s decision reversing the $28 million jury verdict awarded in her case late last year.
The case was the first Xarelto lawsuit to go to trial in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where more than 1,600 product liability claims involving the blood thinner have been centralized in a mass tort program. The plaintiff accused the drug’s manufacturers – Bayer and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary – of skewering clinical trial data to make the new-generation blood thinner appear safer and more effective than its competitors. She also alleged that the that the companies understated the true potential for Xarelto to cause internal bleeding.
The case concluded in December, with the jury awarding the plaintiff a total of $28 million ($1.8 million in actual damages and $26 million in punitive damages). However, the trial court granted the defendants’ motion for judgment not withstanding the verdict in January, after finding that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to justify the massive award.
On Monday, the plaintiff’s attorneys filed a brief outlining the issues to be raised in her appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. According to a report from the Legal Intelligencer, the brief asserts, among other things, bias on the part of the trial judge, and challenges his statement during a January 9th post-trial hearing that the defendants’ “deserve a new trial on account of plaintiffs’ highly inflammatory remarks during closing.”
In seeking to have the verdict overturned, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs’ attorneys had been attempting to link German-based Bayer with the Nazi regime when they made certain remarks about the company’s past during closing statements.
Bayer also cited social media posts by three members of the plaintiff’s trial team that had used the hashtag #killinnazis in apparent connection with the case. While the trial judge indicated that the statements likely had no effect on his decision to toss the jury’s verdict, he did include the evidence in the official appellate record.
Bayer and Johnson & Johnson are named defendants in more than 21,000 Xarelto lawsuits pending nationwide, all of which were filed on behalf of patients who allegedly suffered life-threatening internal bleeding events and related side effects associated with its use, including:
Plaintiffs involved in the Xarelto litigation claim that the drug’s manufacturers understated the risks associated with the medication and wrongly marketed it as an improvement over warfarin, a competing blood thinner that has been in use for decades. Among other things, they point out that internal bleeding associated with warfarin can be stopped via the administration of vitamin K. There is currently no approved antidote to reverse bleeding that may occur in Xarelto patients.
The majority of Xarelto lawsuits are pending in a federal multidistrict litigation now underway in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana. So far three cases have gone to trial in that proceeding, all of which concluded with defense verdicts.