February 21, 2008

Alabama Jury Awards $175 Million in Punitive Damages Against Drugmaker AstraZeneca

The state of Alabama won a huge $175 million punitive damages award today against AstraZeneca, the maker of Nexium and Crestor. A jury found that AstraZeneca had overcharged Alabama's Medicaid agency. Alabama was once famous for its punitive damages awards, especially the awards that led to the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Pacific Mutual v. Haslip and BMW v. Gore. After the high-profile reversal in BMW, however, Alabama's appellate courts have reined in the big awards. Earlier this year the Alabama Supreme Court vacated a $3.5 billion punitive damages award against Exxon Mobil. We'll see what Alabama's courts do with this one.

UPDATE (by Curt Cutting on 2/21/08 at 7:39): AstraZeneca has issued a statement, which you can find here. (Scroll down.) You probably won't believe this, but they plan to appeal.