$70 Million Risperdal Verdict Survives Johnson & Johnson Challenge
The $70 million Risperdal verdict awarded last month to a teenaged gynecomastia plaintiff has survived a first challenge by Johnson & Johnson. According to an Order issued on July 26th, the Court was not swayed by the company’s assertion that improper and irrelevant evidence had been presented at trial.
Johnson & Johnson, Plaintiff Expected to Mount Appeals
The verdict, which was comprised of only compensatory damages, was the largest awarded thus far in a mass tort litigation that includes more than 1,700 Risperdal lawsuits. The case was filed on behalf of a now 17-year-old Tennessee resident who had developed female-like breasts after he began taking the drug in 2003 for an unspecified psychiatric condition. According to Law360.com, his lawsuit accused Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit of concealing information about Risperdal’s link to gynecomastia from patients and doctors. At the time, the drug’s label indicated that the condition was a rare side effect that showed up in fewer than one in 1,000 patients. In addition, the medication had not been approved for any pediatric indications.
In finding for the plaintiff, the jury determined that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen had falsified, concealed, or destroyed material evidence. As such, jurors were able to award compensation in excess of the $750,000 allowed under Tennessee’s non-economic damages cap.
Johnson & Johnson is expected to appeal the verdict.
“We believe this verdict is not justified by the evidence, and that the award is clearly excessive and far out of line with any factual assessment of actual damages,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
According to the Pennsylvania Record, the plaintiff is planning an appeal of his own, as the Court had previously barred punitive damages after determining that New Jersey law should apply to all of the lawsuits pending in the mass tort program. Johnson & Johnson is based in New Jersey, and the state currently disallows such awards in personal injury claims involving federally-approved drugs. However, the plaintiff contends that the laws of his home state should apply instead.
Four Risperdal Verdicts Favor Plaintiffs
So far, five gynecomastia cases have gone to trial in Pennsylvania, four of which concluded with verdicts that favored plaintiffs. Compensatory damage awards in three other cases ranged from $500,000 to $2.5 million.
At least 10 more Risperdal lawsuits that involve male breast growth are slated to go to trial in Pennsylvania. A California litigation that includes about 300 gynecomastia claims will also begin to send cases to juries this year.
Bernstein Liebhard LLP continues to investigate lawsuits involving Risperdal and gynecomastia. If you are interested in joining this litigation, please call 1-877-779-1414.