We’ve been following the post-trial proceedings in Allen v. Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Inc., a product-liability action involving the diabetes drug Actos. The case garnered headlines earlier this year when the jury awarded an astounding $9 billion in punitive damages against the two defendants.
On August 28, the district court in the Western District of Louisiana issued a ruling denying the defendants’ motion for judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on liability for punitive damages and other issues. Despite the suggestion of some news reports that the defendants are now on the hook for the $9 billion, the district court has not yet ruled on the defendants’ separate motion for a new trial under Rule 59, which argues among other things that the punitive damages are excessive.
In this post, I want to address a significant flaw in the district court’s reasoning concerning the defendants’ challenge to punitive liability. Although the error did not affect the decision’s outcome, the issue arises in other cases with some frequency and could make a difference in this case on appeal.