12 year old Madison Schmidt was awarded $38 Million in a lawsuit recently won in St. Louis City Circuit Court. Ms. Schmidt’s lawsuit was filed for damages she suffers from as a result of exposure to Depakote in the womb. Her mother suffered from Epilepsy when she became pregnant with Madison. Her doctors prescribed her Depakote to prevent seizures, which did not have the proper warning labels affixed to the package.
Depakote lawsuit argues drug was defectively designed and inadequately tested
As a result of the exposure to Depakote in utero, Madison Schmidt was born with several birth defects. She is wheelchair bound and faces intellectual challenges. She must also use the assistance of a service dog. Experts at trial opined she would require future care in the amount of $9-$19 Million. Her lawsuit also alleged she lost wages of approximately $1 Million.
The drug Depakote was marketed by Abbott Laboratories who split in 2013 forming the corporation AbbVie. AbbVie is responsible for all lawsuit claims pending for damages Depakote caused.
Attorneys for AbbVie argued the lawsuit had no merits since Depakote had ample warnings posted to its packaging regarding possible birth defects. They also argued that Ms. Schmidt’s mother could have taken various other anti-seizure medications as an alternative to Depakote. The lawsuit filed claimed AbbVie did not warn doctors of the dangers of Depakote and usage by child-bearing aged women.
Madison Schmidt’s grandparents, who filed the lawsuit on her behalf, now care for the child and are her legal guardians. Her Depakote lawsuit ended in a $38 Million verdict – the largest lawsuit verdict in St. Louis City Circuit Court since 2013. Jurors assessed $15 Million in compensatory damages with an additional $23 Million in punitive damages. A lawsuit filed with a punitive damage claim is meant to send an added message to the defendant – their actions are reprehensible.
Attorneys for Depakote plan to appeal the verdict; even though the jury was unanimous in their finding for compensatory damages, and voted 9-3 in favor for the punitive damages award.
This lawsuit will likely send a message to the makers of Depakote that more should have been done to protect the patient it was prescribed to. Depakote lawsuit notoriety is gaining and claims are being filed across the country.