WASHINGTON – On January 9, 2018, Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz, led by Founding Partners Beth Wilkinson and Alexandra Walsh, won the first state-court bellwether trial over the blood-thinner Xarelto when the trial court entered judgment for Bayer and Janssen notwithstanding a jury verdict in favor of the plaintiff. Wilkinson and WW+E had previously secured two full defense verdicts for Bayer in similar cases in the federal multi-district litigation in Louisiana.
In December 2017, a jury in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas awarded nearly $28 million to plaintiff Lynn Hartman in a lawsuit that alleged that Bayer and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals were liable for claims that the Xarelto label did not adequately instruct doctors on the risks of bleeding associated with the anticoagulant Xarelto. Bayer and Janssen then filed motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a new trial. The motions raised two key points (among many others). First, the plaintiffs had failed to establish that the alleged flaws in the label caused the plaintiff’s injuries, as required by the law—in fact, the plaintiff’s physician testified that additional warnings would not have changed her decision to prescribe the drug to the plaintiff. Second, the plaintiffs’ attorneys had made inflammatory remarks during the closing argument in an effort to prejudice the jury—specifically, arguing that Bayer was a German company that did not care about alleged risks to the lives of American patients. Beth Wilkinson delivered the post-trial argument for the defense.
After a brief recess, the trial court granted the motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict based on the plaintiff’s failure to introduce sufficient evidence of causation. The court also ruled that it would otherwise have granted a new trial because of Plaintiffs’ highly inflammatory and prejudicial commentary during closing argument.
Wilkinson and Walsh served as lead trial counsel through the three-week jury trial. WW+E partners Brian Stekloff and Lori Alvino McGill, along with a large and diverse team of WW+E associates, played critical roles in developing this case for trial and preserving issues for post-trial proceedings. The trial team also included Tim Daniels and Kim Moore of Irwin Fritchie Urquhart & Moore LLC, and Lindsey C. Boney IV of Bradley.