A Pennsylvania judge has upheld the $2.5 million verdict awarded to the plaintiff in the state’s first Risperdal gynecomastia trial. In doing so, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Ramy I. Djerassi rejected bids for a new trial from both the defendants and the plaintiffs.
The case was decided in February 2015, when a Philadelphia jury found that Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit had failed to properly warn patients and doctors about the association between Risperdal and excessive male breast growth. The plaintiff, who had begun taking Risperdal in 2002 when he was just seven years old, claimed that the medication had caused him to grow abnormally large breasts. The jury hearing his case awarded him $2.5 million in compensatory damages, but was barred from considering a punitive award due to an earlier court order which held that New Jersey’s law on punitive damages applied to the case
According to court records, the plaintiff had sought a new trial on punitive damages, asserting that the earlier decision was erroneous. In its bid for a do-over, the defense argued that the court’s decision to allow the plaintiff to substitute a new causation expert during the bellwether trial had been prejudicial to its case.
According to court documents, this case was one of four Risperdal gynecomastia claims that went to trial in Philadelphia last year. Jurors returned verdicts of $1.75 million and $500,000 at the conclusion of two other trials. In a fourth, jurors declined to award any damages to the plaintiff, after determining that Risperdal did not cause his breast growth. However, they did find that Johnson & Johnson was negligent for failing to provide doctors and patients with appropriate warnings.
Court records indicate that a fifth Risperdal trial involving male breast growth was scheduled to get underway in Philadelphia last month. But according to a report from the Legal Intelligencer, the case settled for an undisclosed amount on May 13th.
Like the other claims that did make it to trial, this lawsuit was considered a bellwether case, and was intended to provide insight into how juries might rule in similar lawsuits. However, the resolution of this single case is not expected to lead to a global settlement of the more 1,700 Risperdal lawsuits now pending in the Pennsylvania litigation.