Taxotere Trial Defense Strategy
“The Devil Did It”
A jury in Louisiana federal court handed the defendant a victory in the first Taxotere Bellwether presided over by U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo in New Orleans. The case, filed in December 2016 by Louisiana resident Barbara Earnest, had been designated as a Bellwether in a multidistrict litigation consolidated before Judge Milazzo.
Should other Taxotere Plaintiffs be concerned about this initial trial loss? Not really, and we will explain why.
Barbara Earnest’s case was unusual in that she required more than one round of chemotherapy to treat her cancer. She received a round of Taxotere and round of Doxorubicin.
Doxorubicin is a cytotoxic chemotherapy drug and an antitumor antibiotic; it deservedly has been nicknamed the Red Devil. Doxorubicin is a bright, almost florescent, red color.
Despite Doxorubicin not being associated with significant incidents of permanent hair loss, unlike Taxotere, defense counsel took full advantage of the Doxorubicin nick name “Red Devil” and was able to persuade the jury that it was not Taxotere that caused Barbara Earnest permanent hair loss, it was the Devil that did it.
The next Taxotere case up for trial does not involve a dual Taxotere followed by Doxorubicin or vice versa, circumstance. Defense counsel will not be able to claim the devil did it, in the next case.
So, in answer to the question, “Should other Taxotere Plaintiffs be concerned about this initial trial loss?” the answer is no. There are more trials to come and the “facts” of the first case tried are, by no means, the same as those in the majority of other Taxotere plaintiffs’ cases.
If making reference to Bayer’s past connection to Nazis is so inflammatory and prejudicial to be uttered before a jury, where Bayer is a defendant, one would think that using the term “Red Devil” to describe Doxorubicin, the drug’s actual name, in the Barbara Earnest case should equally qualify as too inflammatory and prejudicial for the jury to hear. Plaintiffs counsel objected to the use of “Red Devil”; however, Judge Milazzo nonetheless allowed the Louisiana jury to be led to believe that the Devil had worked some Voodoo, and that was the actual cause of Barbara Earnest’s permanent disfigurement, vs the drug Taxotere, that has actually been shown to cause the type of injuries suffered by Barbara Earnest.
If Judge Milazzo presides over another Taxotere trial in which Doxorubicin was also administered, the Honorable Judge may consider making the defendant refer to the drug by its proper name rather than leading a jury to believe the devil did the deed.
In light of the recent $8 Billion dollar verdict in a Risperdal trial, and multiple other recent Billion Dollar verdicts in mass litigation cases, Sanofi, the maker of Taxotere, may want to think twice about how many times it rolls the dice with a jury trial. If they can’t blame the devil in other cases, they may find that one or more juries find them liable and award more to a single plaintiff that it would take to settle the entire litigation, disposing of all plaintiffs’ cases.
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