The Pennsylvania judge who presided over the most recent Risperdal lawsuit trial has rejected Janssen Pharmaceutical’s bid to overturn the $70 million verdict awarded to a gynecomastia plaintiff earlier this month. According to The Legal Intelligencer, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick also denied a plaintiff’s motion that sought reversal of an order barring punitive damages from the case.
The $70 million compensatory damage award was the largest verdict thus far in a Risperdal case involving male breast growth. The plaintiff at the center of the lawsuit, who is now a teenager, began taking Risperdal in 2003 for an undisclosed psychiatric disorder. At the time the drug had not been approved for any pediatric indications.
In moving for either a new trial or a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, Janssen had asserted that the plaintiff had been allowed to present irrelevant and prejudicial evidence, while it was purportedly barred from introducing evidence that would have bolstered its case. The Johnson & Johnson subsidiary also argued that the $70 million award had no relationship to the facts presented at trial. However, Judge Patrick issued a one-sentence order yesterday denying Janssen’s pretrial motions.
“We are disappointed in the court’s ruling on our post-trial motions. We continue to believe the verdict should be overturned, and will appeal,” a Janssen spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Legal Intelligencer.
Court records indicate that more than 1,760 Risperdal lawsuits have been filed in a Philadelphia mass tort program on behalf of individuals who suffered gynecomastia and other side effects allegedly associated with use of the antipsychotic medication. Among other things, plaintiffs claim that the drug’s manufacturers failed to provide doctors and patients with adequate warnings about its risks, and they accuse the companies of improperly promoting Risperdal for off-label use in children prior to approval of pediatric indications in 2006.
Over the past year, the Pennsylvania litigation has convened five gynecomastia trials involving Risperdal, four of which have ended with significant compensatory damage awards for plaintiffs. No damages were awarded in a fifth case, as the jury was unable to conclude that Risperdal was responsible for the plaintiffs’ breast development. However, as was the case in the other four trials, the jury did find that Janssen’s warnings in regards to gynecomastia were inadequate.