On September 26, 2019, a jury returned a verdict for the defense in the matter of Barbara Earnest v. Sanofi Aventis U.S. LLC and Sanofi US Service, Inc., in the Eastern District of Louisiana.The trial was presided over by Judge Jane Triche Milazzo, beginning on September 16, 2019.The jury found that the plaintiff did not have permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia due to Taxotere, which is a chemotherapy drug manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis. The Earnest matter was the first bellwether trial scheduled, resulting in a win for Sanofi-Aventis. The trial continued for less than two (2) weeks, with jury deliberations lasting just a few hours before the jury returned the verdict for Sanofi-Aventis. There are more than 12,000 other product liability matters pending in the multi district litigation (“MDL”) involving Taxotere, with hundreds still pending in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Mrs. Earnest’s matter was selected early as a bellwether case because she alleged similar claims to the thousands of plaintiffs in other pending matters nationwide, including allegations that Sanofi-Aventis failed to issue warnings directed to breast cancer patients taking the drug that hair loss could be permanent, an alleged known side-effect.The bellwether process was established by Judge Milazzo in the Eastern District of Louisiana where the pending lawsuits nationwide were centralized as part of a federal MDL. In 2021, approximately four additional matters are scheduled to be tried before juries, which will allow the parties to further gauge the merits of the various plaintiffs’ claims throughout the country, and may assist the parties in the settlement of matters to avoid the litigation of over 12,000 pending claims.The jury in the Earnest matter did not reach many of the issues posed by the jury verdict sheet.Having found that the plaintiff did not prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that her alleged chemotherapy-induced alopecia was caused by Taxotere,the jury did not move beyond the first question on the verdict sheet.As such, many questions therefore remain regarding the specific strengths and weaknesses of the arguments raised by the parties at trial.More information regarding developments in MDL 2740 – Taxotere (Docetaxel) Products Liability Litigation may be found at: http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/case-information/mdl-mass-class-action/taxotere.