A federal jury on Thursday awarded $212 million
to a Virginia
man who claimed injections of the wrinkle-smoothing drug Botox to treat hand
tremors and writer’s cramp left him brain-damaged and disabled.
The verdict against Irvine, Calif.-based drug
maker Allergan Inc. came after a nearly two-week trial. The company is exploring
bases for a possible appeal, Allergan spokeswoman Caroline Van Hove said.
Jurors awarded 67-year-old Douglas Ray Jr. of Fredericksburg $12
million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages.
“I’m just so happy,” Ray’s wife,
Betty Ray, said after the trial. “The jurors paid close attention and came
in with a wonderful verdict.”
She said she was grateful for doctors who
testified for her husband.
“It’s really wonderful to know there are
honest people in the world. The doctors we had are very dedicated,” she
Van Hove said there was no evidence to show
Allergan was at fault, and she said she could not speculate on why the jurors
found otherwise. She said the verdict “is inconsistent with the credible
scientific and medical evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of
Botox,” which she said has been used for two decades to treat 21 separate
She also said that under Virginia law, the punitive damages will be
capped at $350,000. Ray’s attorney, Ray Chester of Austin, Tex.,
said he would challenge the cap.
Chester said he thought the jury was most swayed by evidence that Allergan
sent a letter to doctors in Europe warning them about dangers of Botox in June
2007 “but decided not to notify the U.S. doctors because they didn’t
want to hurt sales in their biggest market.” Ray became ill the following
Van Hove denied that the company sought to
protect U.S. sales by
“relabeling” the drug in Europe first, and then the U.S.
Betty Ray said her husband first noticed
tremors in his right hand when he returned in 1967 from a military stint in Vietnam. He
always suspected it was caused by exposure to Agent Orange, she said, and the
ailment worsened as he aged. She said he sought treatment after he began having
difficulty handling a fork, and his hand began cramping when he wrote.
Now, she said, her husband of 43 years requires
around-the-clock care. She has in-home nursing help four hours a day, four days
“We bathe him feed, him, do just about
everything for him,” she said. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to take
care of him.”
She said Ray worked for AT&T for more than
20 years, and the couple opened a hat shop in Ashland after he took early retirement.
“He was just a wonderful person to be
with,” she said.
Ray is the fourth client Chester has represented in lawsuits against
Allergan, the attorney said. He said his largest previous victory was a $15
million judgment in an Oklahoma City
Last year, Allergan agreed to pay $600 million
to settle a yearslong federal investigation into its marketing of Botox. The
company agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge of
“misbranding,” in which Allergan’s marketing led physicians to use
Botox for unapproved uses including headache, spasticity and cerebral palsy in