A Seroquel lawsuit that was set to go to trial before the next MDL trial was dismissed yesterday by a Delaware state court judge. The move was not unexpected. The judge had previously excluded medical expert testimony linking diabetes and Seroquel. Without an expert, a product liability lawyer cannot pursue a Seroquel verdict. The irony of it all is that no one seriously questions that Seroquel can cause diabetes. But I believe the problem here is the same as the problem in the Florida MDL case that was set for trial: the expert – in this case, an endocrinologist – could not sufficiently rule out alternative causes for diabetes.
It did not help that AstraZeneca’s lawyers were able to state in their motion for summary judgment that “until recently, her diet consisted of slurpies and donuts, fish and fries from McDonald’s, Burger King and ‘(a) lot of Chinese food.'” Not exactly the best “Seroquel caused my diabetes” case.
The Plaintiff had the type of lawsuit we prefer: diabetes from off-label use of Seroquel for insomnia.
“The plaintiffs want to try these cases in the press,” said Mike Kelly, a Wilmington attorney with the law firm McCarter & English who represents AstraZeneca in the Delaware cases. “But what is happening in the courts tells it all … So far, the plaintiffs can’t get a case to trial.”
Mr. Kelly is right that plaintiffs keep taking hits. But I really think things are going to change. [Update: I was, ah, wrong about that.] There are too many cases and – eventually – plaintiffs’ Seroquel lawyers are going to hit a large verdict because these cases are going to get past summary judgment and get to a jury. Here’s the bad news for them: juries don’t like drug companies that bury studies about their drugs.
In fact, thousands of Seroquel cases are going to have the ability to make it to the jury (2019 update: I got this wrong too). Most of these Seroquel lawsuits are valid claims linking Seroquel to the plaintiffs’ diabetes. So Seroquel’s defenders should probably not stick their chests out too far. With over 14,000 Seroquel lawsuits pending, it might not be a good idea to start crowing yet. (2019 Update: the crowing was warranted, unfortunately.)