Risperdal Gynecomastia Plaintiff Challenges Mistrial Prompted by Juror’s Medical Emergency

Published on May 3, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

A Risperdal lawsuit plaintiff is challenging a Pennsylvania judge’s decision to declare a mistrial in his case, after one of his expert witnesses rendered aid to a juror experiencing a medical emergency. In a post-trial motion filed with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on April 27th, attorneys for Dean Hibbs argued that the parties should have been able to question jurors about their objectivity before a mistrial was declared.

Hibbs’s, who claims that he developed gynecomastia due to treatment with Risperdal, is seeking a new trial on liability.  His case initially went to trial in mid-March. However, a mistrial was declared on March 27th, after Dr. Mark Solomon and a nurse employed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals rendered medical aid to a juror. According to The Legal Intelligencer, Dr. Solomon has appeared as a plaintiff’s expert witness at several Pennsylvania Risperdal trials and had taken the stand on Hibbs’s behalf when the juror fell ill.

Attorneys representing Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit movde for a mistrial immediately, arguing that jurors would be prejudiced by the incident.

A second jury was convened to hear Hibbs’s Risperdal lawsuit. However, the case was dismissed midtrial after the judge granted a defense Motion for Nonsuit.

“The trial court erred and abused its discretion in granting a mistrial without conducting voir dire of the jury to determine whether they were in fact prejudiced by Dr. Solomon’s actions,” Hibbs’s pre-trial motion asserts. “For this reason, the court should lift the nonsuit and order a new trial for the purposes of determining the liability of the Janssen defendants.”

Risperdal Litigation

Risperdal is an atypical antipsychotic indicated to treat certain psychiatric conditions in adults and children. Prior to October 2006, the drug’s label characterized gynecomastia as a rare side effect that appeared in less than 1 in 1,000 patients. That month, the Risperdal label was updated to note that 2.3% of male adolescents treated with the drug had experienced the condition.

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas is home to a mass tort program that includes more than 5,700 Risperdal lawsuits, many of which were filed on behalf of men and boys who experienced gynecomastia due to treatment with the antipsychotic drug. These plaintiffs accuse the drug’s manufacturers of concealing data linking Risperdal to excessive male breast growth and failing to adequately warn doctors and patients about this side effect.

Hibbs’s case was the seventh gynecomastia lawsuit to go before a Pennsylvania jury. Since 2015, four of those juries have rendered verdicts in favor of Risperdal plaintiffs, with damage awards ranging from $500,000 to $70 million.  One other case was dismissed midtrial, while a seventh ended with a partial verdict for the defense.

Summary judgements have also been granted in two Risperdal gynecomastia cases just prior to trial. Undisclosed settlements were reached in several other lawsuits that had been scheduled to go before juries.

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