Las Vegas district judge Kerry Earley is considering a request to punish lawyers for misconduct during a civil trial over the cancer risks associated with Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ diabetes drug Actos.
On Thursday, Judge Earley heard arguments from an attorney representing a woman involved in the case against Takeda, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. The attorney argued that Takeda’s defense team has violated court orders and treated the judge disrespectfully during the trial. The attorney asked the judge to impose sanctions, arguing that Takeda’s lawyers are engaging in intentional misconduct to cause a mistrial in the case.
The plaintiffs in the case, Delores Cipriano of Henderson, Nevada, and Bertha Triana of Las Vegas, were both diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2012, after taking Actos (pioglitazone). Their cases were consolidated for trial, according to the Review-Journal.
On April 8, Earley said the behavior of defense counsel during the trial “has been absolutely very egregious,” and, at the least, “very disrespectful.” Earley had previously reprimanded one attorney for pointing his finger at her and another for rolling her eyes and telling the judge she “was getting emotional.” On April 11, Earley warned attorneys about gestures or comments during a sidebar that could be seen and heard by the jury, according to the Review-Journal.
Thousands of product liability lawsuits have been filed against Takeda, accusing the company of failing to inform consumers and doctors about the bladder cancer risk associated with the use of Actos. In June 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety announcement warning that taking Actos for more than one year may be associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer, the Review-Journal reports. Earlier this month, a Louisiana jury ordered Takeda to pay $6 billion in punitive damages in another Actos case.