Risperdal plaintiffs pursuing gynecomastia cases in a Pennsylvania mass tort program are looking to reverse a trial court’s decision that could result in the dismissal of hundreds of lawsuits. This past Tuesday, their attorneys had the opportunity to argue their case before a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
Court documents indicate that more than 2,100 Risperdal lawsuits have been filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common n Pleas on behalf of men and boys who allegedly experienced excessive breast growth due to their use of the antipsychotic medication. According to a report from Law360.com, two of those cases have already been tossed by the lower court because they had not been filed by June 30, 2009. In doing so, the judge overseeing the mass tort program asserted that the plaintiffs should have been aware of the possible connection between Risperdal and gynecomastia by that date, as it had been noted in several medical journals and media reports. Information about the condition had also been added to Risperdal’s warning label
Around 250 other Risperdal lawsuits currently pending in the proceeding were filed after the court-imposed cut-off date of June 30, 2009. If the ruling stands, those plaintiffs could also be time-barred from pursuing their claims.
In oral arguments before the Superior Court panel on Tuesday, plaintiffs’ attorneys asserted that there was nothing to indicate that either of the two plaintiffs had been exposed to any of the materials used by the trial court to justify the filing deadline. Among other things, they maintainedthat the ruling meant that “that these young men in Harrisburg and Hazelton should have had access to and should have been plumbing the depths of the psychopharmacology literature.”
Not surprisingly, attorneys for Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit had a different take. According to The Legal Intelligencer, they pointed out that the two plaintiffs in question were around 30-years-old when they filed their Risperdal lawsuits, and had been off the drug for several years. The drug companies’ lawyers insisted that both plaintiffs had plenty of time to identify and investigate the cause of their breast growth.