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Georges v. Novartis Pharms. Corp.

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 30, 2013

Adriann Georges
v.
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., et al

Page 1153

For PLAINTIFF: Not Present.

For DEFENDANT: Not Present.

OPINION

THE HONORABLE S. JAMES OTERO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Page 1154

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

PROCEEDINGS (in chambers): ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW, OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, FOR NEW TRIAL [Docket No. 354]

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.'s (" Defendant" ) Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law, or, in the Alternative, for New Trial (" Motion" ), filed on October 22, 2013. Plaintiff Adriann Georges (" Plaintiff" ) filed an Opposition to the Motion on November 18, 2013, and Defendant responded in support thereof on November 25, 2013 (" Reply" ). The Court found this matter suitable for disposition without oral argument and vacated the hearing set for December 9, 2013. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The following facts were established at trial. Defendant is a manufacturer of two drugs, Aredia and Zometa (" Treatment Drugs" ), which are bisphosphonates used

Page 1155

in the treatment of cancer that has metastasized to the bones. (Trial Tr. Day 2, 212:9-11, 213:2-6, Apr. 10, 2013, ECF No. 284.) These drugs are prescribed to limit or prevent skeletal complications of various types associated with such metastases. (Trial Tr. Day 2, 85:7-23.)

Osteonecrosis of the jaw (" ONJ" ) is an osseous pathology leading to the deterioration and death of bone in the jaw. Following reports of ONJ in patients taking the Treatment Drugs, in September 2003 Defendant placed a warning on its label regarding the risk of ONJ. (PX-413, App. of Exs. Cited in Supp. of Mot. (" Exhibits Appendix" ) 175, ECF No. 354-5; Trial Tr. Day 2, 182:11-16.) Intravenous bisphosphonates like the Treatment Drugs are linked to the development of ONJ. (Trial Tr. Day 5, 171:15-19, Apr. 16, 2013, ECF No. 294.)

In August 1999, Plaintiff was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer that had spread to the bones. (Trial Tr. Day 7, 160:1-22, 161:14-16, Apr. 18, 2013, ECF No. 316.) When she was diagnosed, Plaintiff began taking Aredia at the advice of her oncologist, Dr. James Waisman. (Trial Tr. Day 7, 160:9-22.) She switched to Zometa in early 2002. (Trial Tr. Day 7, 163:1-6.) In March 2000, Plaintiff's jaw problems began. (Trial Tr. Day 7, 164:7-9; PX-1157, Exs. App. 202.) Over the next three years, several of Plaintiff's teeth were extracted or fell out. (Trial Tr. Day 7, 165:16-166:4.) Plaintiff continued treatment with Zometa until 2005, when Dr. Waisman put her treatment on hold pending concerns that the Treatment Drugs were associated with her jaw problems. (Trial Tr. Day 7, 25:5-26:3.) Dr. Eric Sung diagnosed Plaintiff with ONJ in the right and left mandible and treated her accordingly. (Trial Tr. Day 5, 31:13-34:3.) Plaintiff continues to suffer from symptoms of ONJ. (Trial Tr. Day 7, 170:4-172:7; 174:19-177:18.)

Plaintiff filed the current case against Defendant in Los Angeles County Superior Court, from which Defendant removed the case to this Court on August 18, 2006. (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.) On October 12, 2006, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (" MDL Court" ) approved transfer of the case to that district as part of a Multidistrict Litigation (" MDL" ) that handled discovery and resolution of preliminary issues for multiple cases asserting bisphosphonate-caused ONJ against Defendant. ( See Conditional Transfer Order, ECF No. 14.) The case was transferred back from MDL Court on July 28, 2011, for resolution of case-specific questions. ( See Notice of Transfer/Remand and Reopening of Case, ECF No. 17.)

Trial in this case began on April 9, 2013. On April 19, 2013, Defendant filed a Rule 50(a) Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law. (ECF No. 304.) The Court denied this motion. (ECF No. 319.) On April 24, 2013, the jury found for Plaintiff and awarded her a total of $2,162,000. (ECF No. 336; see generally Trial Tr. Day 11, Apr. 24, 2013, ECF No. 333). The Court issued Judgment in the case on September 24, 2013. (ECF No. 349.) Defendant filed the present Motion on October 22, 2013. Plaintiff has filed an Opposition (ECF No. 356), and Defendant has replied in support (ECF No. 358).

II. DISCUSSION

A. Judgment as a Matter of Law

A motion for judgment as a matter of law (" JMOL" ) may only be granted where " the evidence, construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, permits only one reasonable conclusion, and that conclusion is contrary to that ...


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