Risperdal litigation in Philadelphia courts have increased significantly this year and the trend is likely to continue. Mass torts against Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, over it’s antipsychotic drug Risperdal has nearly tripled in Pennsylvania. Plaintiff attorneys say the biggest cause for the recent influx is the expiration of a tolling agreement between Janssen and plaintiffs attorneys on thousands of cases. A tolling agreement puts cases on hold, also freezing the time on statue of limitations. Janssen chose to cancel the tolling agreement after a record-setting $70M loss in Philadelphia, presumably to flood Philadelphia courts with thousands of cases at once.
A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California, will likely be be another contributor to increased Risperdal litigation in Philadelphia courts. The ruling effectively stopped attorneys from joining out-of-state plaintiffs with mass tort lawsuits of in-state plaintiffs, it is typical for a mass tort in Philadelphia to be made up of 80 – 90% of out-of-state plaintiffs. Those injured by pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and other products can no longer file suit in states with courts and juries that are seen as plaintiff friendly, or have laws that are more consumer friendly. For jurisdiction to apply a plaintiff must be a resident of the state in which the suit is filed, or the defendant must be based (incorporated) in that state. California, Illinois and Missouri, who are seen as plaintiff-friendly venues, will see a decrease in litigation as out-of-state plaintiffs’ are dismissed as out of jurisdiction.
“The problem with Bristol-Meyers Squibb v. Superior Court of California is it allows corporations to limit people and how they can join together and sue. Mass torts reduce the cost to the consumers suing for damages. Courts in California and Missouri recognized this and made it easier for consumers nationwide to join mass tort suits. This will no longer be allowed.” – Stephen Sheller, Sheller PC
Janssen- and multiple other companies- based out of Pennsylvania, would be within Pennsylvania courts jurisdiction. It is likely Risperdal suits originally filed elsewhere will be brought to Pennsylvania’s courts. Corporations and their lobbyist consider Philadelphia to be more plaintiff friendly. Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas made American Tort Reform Foundation’s “watch list” of “judicial hellholes,” also referred to as “plaintiff’s havens.”
“It is an anti-consumer, pro-business decision. Corporations will now chose to incorporate in states with court that are more business friendly and limit a consumers redress from injury. It will increase the cost of litigation, backlog cases in courts and increase the time to go to trial.” – Sheller
Pennsylvania’s uniquely written business consent law may also create jurisdiction for out-of-state plaintiffs or defendants. This was recently upheld in Bors v. Johnson & Johnson. Pennsylvania requires any corporation doing business in state to register in that state. Pennsylvania’s law is unique in the wording that requires corporations to also consent to the court’s general jurisdiction.
Some plaintiff’s lawyers believe this is sufficient to create jurisdiction in Pennsylvania. These factors are likely to contribute to an increase in litigation, especially against Janssen, in the state.
Philadelphia Flooded With New Risperdal Lawsuits; Trials Split But Include Massive Verdict, Forbes, April 10, 2017
Access to Plaintiff-Friendly Jurisdictions Constrained in ‘Game-Changing’ SCOTUS Ruling, The National Law Journal, June 20, 2017
Will ‘Bristol-Myers’ Exclude Tort Actions From—or Draw Them to—Pa.?, The Legal Intelligencer, June 21, 2017
Phila. Risperdal Docket More Than Doubles in First Half of 2017, Law.com, July 13, 2017
Jury smacks J&J with $70M in damages in latest Risperdal breast case, Fierce Pharma, July 5, 2016