Nov. 30, 2016 – San Diego, CA – Johnson & Johnson is gearing up to defend itself in another Risperdal trial opening this Friday in Philadelphia.
But even after getting hit with a $70 million verdict this past summer, attorneys for plaintiffs in the mass tort program said the company isn’t likely to consider global settlement negotiations until two appeals are resolved by the Pennsylvania Superior Court, Law360 reported this week.
The issues on appeal are ones that could significantly affect the litigation as a whole. As one Philadelphia attorney told Law360, “They really are issues that cut across the whole litigation and could significantly change the size of the risk.”
One appeal before the state superior court could extend the statute of limitations on Risperdal claims, which was severely limited by presiding Judge Arnold New last year.
Judge New ruled in January 2015 that plaintiffs should have known about Risperdal’s risk of gynecomastia by June 2009. Gynecomastia is the abnormal development of breast tissue in boys and men. It is caused by hormonal imbalances, which can be brought on by a variety of different factors, including medications.
Lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal allege the antipsychotic drug caused plaintiffs’ gynecomastia and that the company failed to warn about the potential risk on the product label until 2006.
Judge New’s ruling put more than 250 cases on hold and blocked many potential Risperdal plaintiffs from filing claims. If the superior court decides to overturn it, those cases could become active and the pool of potential Risperdal plaintiffs could widen once again.
The second issue on appeal involves the decision by Judge New in 2014 to extend New Jersey law regarding punitive damages to the Philadelphia cases, Law360 reported. The law allows juries to award punitive damages only in cases where drugmakers withhold information from federal regulators.
Judge New’s decision barred punitive damages from being awarded in these Risperdal cases, which allege the company failed to provide adequate warnings but do not contend the company withheld information from regulators.
Unless the superior court hands down a decision in the next day, it will likely be considering the two appeals when the latest Risperdal case goes to trial Friday.
The case involves a Texas teen who was diagnosed with gynecomastia in 2010 after taking Risperdal for four years, an attorney representing the teen told Law360. It will be the sixth case in the Risperdal mass tort to go before a jury and the first to go to trial since a J&J was slapped with a $70 million verdict in July.
The $70 million verdict, which was later increased to $76 million, is so far the largest in the Risperdal litigation. Three other trials resulted in $500,000, $1.75 million and $2.5 million verdicts, and the first ended in favor of the plaintiff but with no damages awarded. All these verdicts are reportedly on appeal.
But until the two appeals currently before the superior court are resolved, the massive $70 million verdict isn’t likely to push J&J into global settlement talks since the threat of punitive damages isn’t hanging over the company’s head.
Punitive damages, the Law360 report noted, aren’t typically covered by a company’s insurance. This is why J&J’s eyes are currently on the Philadelphia Superior Court: It has the power to reinstate the possibility of punitive damages being awarded in these cases should it overturn Judge New’s decision.
The Law360 report also noted that if J&J is hit with more and more massive verdicts, the company could start to consider global settlement negotiations.
J&J is currently facing more than 2,000 Risperdal lawsuits in the Philadelphia mass tort alone. As another Philadelphia attorney told Law360, “If you have $70 million times 2,000 cases – you do the math – that’s a pretty big number. No company is going to want to end up looking at that.”
The case is T.M. et al v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc et al (130501076) in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Risperdal Lawsuits are continuing to be filed by those who took the antipsychotic drug and were later diagnosed with gynecomastia.
In addition to the more than 2,000 lawsuits currently pending in the mass tort program in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas, lawsuits are being filed in courts throughout the country.
Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, has already begun settling some of the Risperdal cases in the Philadelphia litigation for undisclosed amounts of money.
If you or someone you love was harmed after taking Risperdal, you may be entitled to financial compensation. In light of the recent verdicts and settlements, it is imperative you file your Risperdal Lawsuit as soon as possible.
The attorneys at Hood National Law Group have been fighting for the rights of consumers against the pharmaceutical industry and can help you get the justice you deserve. Call Hood National today to speak with a member of our legal team and see if your case qualifies for a Risperdal Lawsuit. Call 1-800-214-1010 or use the form on the right-hand side of your screen. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.