November 11, 2016

Missouri appellate court affirms $23 million punitive damages award against Abbott

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, has affirmed a judgment awarding $15 million in compensatory damages and $23 million in punitive damages against drug maker Abbott Laboratories.  The plaintiffs consisted of 29 individuals who claimed they suffered birth defects because their mothers took Abbott's antiepileptic drug Depakote.  The appellate court rejected Abbott's argument that plaintiffs failed to prove Abbott deliberately disregarded the safety of others when marketing the drug.   

Johnson & Johnson will soon be challenging some very large Missouri punitive damages awards, so they can't be too happy to see this opinion.  But the court in this case applied Minnesota law to the punitive damages claim, so the decision should not have any direct impact on J&J's talc appeals.

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