The Seroquel cases are not going well for plaintiffs. On April 6, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment ruling of the Massachusetts federal trial court in a Seroquel case. The plaintiff alleged that Seroquel caused her to gain weight and develop diabetes, but at the trial level (and affirmed on appeal), she lost her specific causation expert on a Daubert ruling. The trial record showed that the excluded expert did not have sufficient medical history upon which to base her conclusions—at deposition, she lost points by not knowing the full history of the plaintiff’s weight gain and loss. The Court stated:
In fact, Guinn’s weight fluctuated before, during, and after her use of Seroquel, with her highest recorded weight during each period being roughly equivalent. Guinn also had a sedentary lifestyle, a poor diet, a significant family history of diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, schizophrenia, and prediabetes, all of which, in addition to her age of 61, put her at an increased risk for developing diabetes.
Tellingly, the plaintiff’s expert commented that the plaintiff would have likely developed diabetes, even absent taking Seroquel.
Experts must be given full access to information well before litigation starts. This highlights the need for plaintiffs’ attorneys to work with experts, to make sure they have everything they need, and to thoroughly examine their opinions and conclusions prior to naming them as experts. In mass torts, this is especially important, and in bellwether cases, this is crucial—to some degree, these cases set the precedent for the following cases.
The scorecard brings that to seven grants of summary judgment (one affirmed on appeal), and one defense verdict. AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of Seroquel, has settled with the government to the tune of $520 million regarding improper Seroquel marketing. There are about 25,000 cases left to go.
For more information on Seroquel, see our prior blog posts.