Pennsylvania Superior Court Remands Risperdal Verdict to Lower Court to consider New Trial on Punitive Damages

pic2The third Risperdal case to go to trial has been remanded to the trial court to consider whether there should be a new trial.  At question is whether to apply punitive damages to the verdict.  The case, Murray v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals originally rendered a $1.75 million verdict.  The amount was later reduced to $680,000 by the trial court after Janssen moved for a modification of the verdict.  The modification of the damages was granted when the trial court applied Maryland’s cap on noneconomic damages.


The Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the trial court’s reduction of the verdict but sent the case back to the trial court to consider punitive damages.  In a previous case, the court had decided that Risperdal plaintiffs should be able to seek and recover punitive damages.  The trial court must now decide whether to apply the substantive law or New Jersey or Maryland.  New Jersey law strictly prohibits recovery of punitive damages in products liability cases.  Maryland law, however, allows for a plaintiff to recover punitive damages or those damages designed to punish the defendant’s conduct.


History of Risperdal Cases

In 1994, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Risperdal to treat schizophrenia in adults.  In June 2006, a study linked use of the drug with an increased likelihood of male breast growth, a condition known as gynecomastia.  Despite this study, the FDA approved the drug for treatment of schizophrenia in boys between the ages of 13 and 17 years old.  The drug was also approved to treat bipolar disorder in children between the ages of 10 and 17.  By September of 2012, over 400 lawsuits are filed against manufacturers of Risperdal.  At least 130 of these cases involve plaintiffs who have suffered from gynecomastia.  Today there are over 5500 Risperdal lawsuits pending in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.


In the matter of Pledger v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals the jury awarded the plaintiff $2.5 million after testimony that 21-year-old Austin Pledger had developed 46DD breasts as a result of taking Risperdal at the age of 12.  The jury found that Janssen Pharmaceuticals was negligent and failed to provide adequate warnings to Pledger’s physician about the risk of gynecomastia.


In the matter of Yount v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the jury awarded a $76.6 million judgment. The jury found that Johnson and Johnson subsidiary Janssen did “intentionally falsify, destroy or conceal records containing material evidence in the case.” Other plaintiffs have received jury awards from $500,000 to $1 million. Johnson and Johnson have agreed to confidential settlements in some other cases.


Risperdal litigation is still ongoing.  Thousands of people have been affected by this drug and others.  Amicus Media Group is dedicated to bringing you the latest information on Risperdal lawsuits, mass torts, class action lawsuits and products liability litigation.  We provide comprehensive legal marketing services for attorneys practicing in these fields.  Contact us today for more information.


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