Depakote Drugmaker AbbVie Inc. Charged With $15 Million Verdict In Birth Defect Case

June 9th, 2017- A Federal jury in Illinois found AbbVie Inc., an Abbot Laboratories spinoff, guilty of keeping information about their product Depakote from the doctors in charge of prescribing it. Christina Raquel’s doctors prescribed her with Depakote as a treatment for bipolar depression before and during her pregnancy. The powerful drug ultimately caused her son to be born with “spina bifida”. Her son Stevie Gonzalez, now 10 years old, has undergone 12 surgeries since birth and is unable to walk. The jury awarded him and his family $15 million in compensation.

AbbVie had enough information available to them that indicated a risk greater than 10 percent of causing birth defects. However, Depakote’s label warned of a 1 or 2 percent risk instead. Around 10 years ago, Depakote was AbbVie’s first drug to reach a prominent billion dollars in sales. Gonzalez’s attorneys argued AbbVie omitted the high-priority information in order to keep Depakote profitable. Consequently, the jury only found AbbVie guilty, while the doctors did not face charges.

The $15 million award compensates Stevie Gonzalez for his future medical costs, loss of potential wages, and emotional suffering. On top of this verdict, Gonzalez’s family requested further compensation for punitive damages. However, in a separate hearing, the jury determined that the $15 million award would not increase.


Gonzalez’s lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of Illinois, is one of approximately 700 pending Depakote cases so far in U.S. courts against the drugmaker. In 2015, a case in St. Louis resulted in a $38 million verdict, including compensation for punitive damages.

If you or a loved one has been affected by Depakote side effects, you may be eligible for compensation. A successful outcome on your claim could entitle you to damages for medical expenses, future age loss, pain, and suffering. For a free and honest evaluation of your case, reach out to The Sanders Firm.