Defense’s Sole Win in Phila. Risperdal Litigation Reversed


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The Pennsylvania Superior Court has reversed Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ only defense verdict in the Risperdal mass tort litigation in Philadelphia.

A unanimous three-judge Superior Court panel on Monday reversed Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ win in the case W.C. v. Janssen, and ordered a brand new trial on the problems of causation and damages.

The 22-page precedential ruling hinged on the testimony of Michelle Baker, a doctor’s assistant who handled the plaintiff for eight years. According to Superior Court Judge Jack Panella, who wrote the courtroom’s opinion, the trial courtroom erred by allowing Baker, a lay witness, to primarily supply skilled testimony at trial.

“Baker’s testimony, in which she opined that appellant’s weight gain, rather than his Risperdal usage, caused him to appear to have gynecomastia, was the only causation testimony offered by a witness who personally treated appellant,” Panella stated. “This opinion was offered without the proper vetting and safeguards surrounding expert testimony.”

In March 2015, a 12-member jury in Philadelphia decided that, though Janssen did not warn concerning the dangers of gynecomastia, the plaintiffs additionally failed show that the drug triggered the plaintiff’s gynecomastia, which is a situation the place males develop extra breast tissue.

The verdict was the second out of Philadelphia’s Risperdal mass tort litigation program, the place greater than 5,500 cases are pending towards the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary over its alleged failure to warn concerning the hyperlink between antipsychotic medicine and gynecomastia. More than 5 Risperdal instances have come earlier than juries in Philadelphia, and, though two instances have been tossed out midtrial, the decision in W.C. was the one protection verdict to date.

In an emailed assertion, Kline & Specter lawyer Thomas R. Kline, who’s representing the plaintiffs, stated “It is most noteworthy that in each Risperdal case determined by a jury, together with [W.C.], Janssen has been discovered negligent, and the Superior Court panel, in this precedential opinion has upheld that negligence discovering, and directed a brand new trial as to causation and damages solely.”

Janssen spokeswoman Kelsey Buckholtz stated the corporate was dissatisfied by the ruling, and protection counsel is “reviewing our options going forward.”

Despite profitable a brand new trial, the plaintiffs additionally failed to convince the identical Superior Court panel that the decrease courtroom erred when it rejected arguments that the statute of limitations in two instances ought to have been tolled till 2013.

That ruling, issued in an 18-page memorandum opinion in the instances Saksek v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Winter v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, rejected the argument that the plaintiffs couldn’t know concerning the hyperlink between Risperdal and gynecomastia till they noticed a business explaining the connection in 2013.

Panella, who additionally wrote the opinion in Saksek and Winter, famous that the plaintiffs allegedly started rising breasts in 1998 and 2002, however didn’t sue till 2014.

“Their breasts were there, and had been there, for years. And then, in October 2006, the label on Risperdal changed, expressly linking usage of the drug to gynecomastia,” Panella stated. “Accordingly, by that date, ‘reasonable minds would not differ in finding that,’ appellants knew, or should have known, of their injuries and the cause of those injuries by this point.”

Kline stated he expects the ruling to have influence past the Winter and Saksek instances.

“We believe yesterday’s harsh statute of limitations ruling, which bars the claims of thousands of Risperdal victims who could not possibly have known of their gynecomastia injury and its cause, is wrong both factually and legally,” Kline stated. “We plan to appeal further, seeking to reopen the door to the courthouse.”

But Buckholtz burdened the Superior Court’s holding that stated the plaintiffs ought to have recognized about the reason for their accidents by October 2006 on the newest.

“We are pleased the Superior Court affirmed Judge [Arnold] New’s ruling,” she stated.

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