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Counsel for Takeda Pharmaceuticals Face Sanctions in Actos Trial

Las Vegas Actos TrialThe Actos trial proceeding in a Las Vegas courtroom recently resulted in some negative publicity for the defendants, Takeda Pharmaceuticals. The lawyers for the defendants were reprimanded by U.S. District Judge Kerry Earley for their unprofessional behavior and they now face sanctions imposed by the Judge. Since the trial began on February 10, 2014, the counsel for the defendants has engaged in a string of well-documented behaviors that have been deemed “disrespectful” and “egregious.” Furthermore, the lawyers are accused of “disobeying court orders and disrupting court proceedings,” according to a ruling by the Judge.

The trial pending against Takeda Pharmaceuticals involves the medication Actos, which is prescribed for the treatment for type 2 diabetes. The two plaintiffs, 81-year-old Delores Cipriano and 80-year-old Bertha Triana, allege that the medication led both of them to develop life-threatening bladder cancer.

They contend that Takeda Pharmaceuticals should be held liable for failing to warn them of the risk of bladder cancer, which is a type of cancer that often requires invasive treatment and has a tendency to recur, even after the patient achieves remission. Takeda faces thousands of similar lawsuits across the country and has already been ordered to pay out billions.

Counsel accused of “egregious,” “disrespectful” behavior

If the ruling from Judge Earley is any indication, the recent actions by the counsel haven’t helped the defendants’ case. Throughout the Las Vegas Actos trial, the lawyers for Takeda have been documented as engaging in disrespectful behavior, particularly toward the Judge. One of the lawyers was reprimanded after pointing his finger at Judge Earley and the other lawyer was admonished for rolling her eyes and informing the Judge that she “was getting emotional.”

The Judge further noted that because Takeda’s lawyers had repeatedly violated her orders, the plaintiffs’ lawyer was forced to repeatedly object in court and request bench conferences. The Judge became concerned that these disruptions may have colored the jury’s opinion of the counsel for the plaintiffs, perhaps going as far as to make the jury think that the plaintiffs are “hiding evidence, disrupting the proceedings, prolonging the trial, or wasting the jury’s time,” according to the Judge.

Judge Earley noted that until recently she had tolerated the “disrespectful” and “egregious” behavior because it was mainly hidden from the jury. However, she felt the lawyers for the defendants crossed a line, particularly during an incident on April 11. During a sidebar conference, one of the defense lawyers was alleged to have made an inappropriate remark in a manner so as to let the jury hear it.

Following that incident, Judge Earley admonished the duo and asked the jury to disregard comments made by the defense lawyers.One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs remarked that it appeared the Takeda lawyers were engaging in this sort of behavior on purpose, perhaps in order to force a mistrial. The plaintiffs are seeking a multi-billion dollar verdict in their Actos lawsuit. However, the attorney for the plaintiffs has made it clear that they would not request a mistrial.

Sanctions involve new jury instructions

As a result of the disruptive behavior during the Actos trial, the Takeda lawyers must now deal with sanctions imposed by Judge Earley. The Judge took a lenient approach to the sanctions, rejecting monetary sanctions and instead arranging for additional jury instructions, which are to be read prior to the closing arguments. The Judge’s instructions to the jury make mention of the Takeda lawyers’ frequent disruptions and violations of orders, and informs the jury members that they are to avoid becoming prejudiced against the plaintiffs because of the need for frequent objections and bench conferences.

  1. Las Vegas Review Journal, Las Vegas judge grants sanctions request for lawyers’ disrespectful behavior, 
  2. Las Vegas Review Journal, Las Vegas judge may punish for misconduct in Actos trial,