Positive Developments in Risperdal Litigation in August

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Several positive developments this month for young men injured from taking the Risperdal. Risperdal is an anti-psychotic drug manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The drug’s side effects included gynecomastia, the growth of female-like breast in young boys.

$2.5M Jury Verdict Stands

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has declined to hear an appeal of the $2.5 million Risperdal verdict which will now stand.

Austin Pledger’s case was the first to go to trial in Philadelphia. The verdict was for compensatory damages only since the trial judge banned punitive damages, a ruling that was later reverse upon appeal. Pledger’s case is set to go back to trial for punitive damages.

Pledger claims he grew female-like breasts at the age of 8 from taking Risperdal and is now permanently disfigured.

PA Appeals Court Pushing Back Against J&J Appeal of $70M Risperdal Verdict

A Pennsylvania appeals court is pushing back against J&J’s bid to have Andrew Yount’s $70 million verdict reduced. J&J’s lawyers claim at 30 times higher than other Risperdal verdicts, it is the result of a runaway jury. His case was the fifth Risperdal case to go to trial in Philadelphia.

“I don’t think the fact that it’s the highest should be part of our consideration. That doesn’t go to the merits.” -Senior Judge Correale Stevens

Judge Deborah Kunselman emphasized Yount’s suffering physical pain, emotional trauma and severe bullying due to being a young man with female breasts.

“Isn’t that one of the risks you take by going to a jury trial? You have a 20-year-old man who now has female boobs. That’s not insignificant.” – Judge Deborah Kunselman

Yount began taking Risperdal at 4 years old for behavioral problems. At the time Rispderal was not approved for use in children and J&J claimed the risk of gynecomastia was small, 1 in 1,000, however it was later discovered that J&J had data showing that the risk was much greater, 2.3%, in young boys.

Risperdal Plaintiff Urges Judge To Move Forward With Punitive Damages Trial

Nicholas Murray, a young man from Maryland, has urged a Pennsylvania judge to proceed with a punitive damages trial over damages he suffered taking J&J’s drug Risperdal.

In 2015 Murray was award $1.75 million in compensatory damages after a jury agreed with the plaintiff that J&J had failed to warn of the increased risk for young boys of growing female-like breasts. At the time of the trial, the jury was banned from awarding punitive damages. The ban was later overturned and an appeals court ruled punitive damages may be awarded according to laws of the plaintiff’s home state.

According to the plaintiff, Maryland allows punitive damages to be awarded if the “defendant knew about the defect and its danger and disregarded the potential harm to others.” In Nicholas Murray’s case, a jury must find that J&J knew of the increased risk of gynecomastia in young men at the time Murray was taking Risperdal and did not make that fact known to consumers.

Murray began taking Risperdal for symptoms of autism in 2003 when he was 9 years old. At that time, warning labels on Risperdal showed gynecomastia was a rare side effect, occurring in fewer than 1 in 1,000 adults. Plaintiff’s claim J&J knew at the time the incident of gynecomastia in young boys was much higher. Risperdal’s label was changed in October 2006 to show the increased risk.

J&J argues that Maryland law requires the defendant to act with “actual malice” to award punitive damages while evidence in Murray’s trial showed negligence.

Sources:

Pa. Supreme Court declines to hear Janssen’s appeal in $2.5 million Risperdal case, Penn Record, August 6, 2019

Pa. Appeals Court Hints At Backing $70M Risperdal Verdict, Law360, August 7, 2019

Risperdal Patient Slams J&J’s Bid to Dodge Damages Trial, Law360, August 13, 2019

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