In a surprising turn, the jury of a Pennsylvania lawsuit awarded injured plaintiff Andrew Yount $70 million in civil damages caused by the antipsychotic drug, Risperdal. This is the largest dollar amount in damages for an individual Risperdal lawsuit. Previously, another lawsuit awarded Austin Pledger $2.5 million in February 2015.
Yount’s lawsuit is one of 1,700 suits alleging that Risperdal caused the young men to develop female breast tissue (gynecomastia), resulting in emotional distress and, for many, costly surgical treatment. Some problems stemmed from Janssen Pharmaceutical’s—a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) subsidiary—marketing campaign of the drug to adolescents for which it paid out more than $2.2 billion in a federal criminal and civil liability settlement.
Yount was prescribed Risperdal at a young age to treat a psychological disorder; however, the drug was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration for adult use only. Yount and his lawyers successfully argued that Janssen didn’t provide any warnings regarding the gynecomastia risk and actively concealed the scientific evidence proving Risperdal’s link to the condition.
In response to the Yount case’s verdict, Janssen attempted to appeal the decision. The firm noted that “the award is clearly excessive and far out of line with any factual assessment of actual damages.” Judge Paula Patrick of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas—who oversaw Yount’s lawsuit—denied Janssen’s motion to appeal for a new trial or judgment.
Judge Patrick also denied Yount’s appeal to reverse a New Jersey law barring punitive damages from being awarded in lawsuits against drugs approved by the FDA. J&J is a Jersey-based company, so the preemption law applies to all lawsuits against it and its subsidiaries. The law also extends that protection to Janssen’s primary business residence in Philadelphia.
Damages in the future?
While Yount is barred from collecting punitive damages, another Risperdal case is currently being heard in the Superior Court of Los Angeles in California where the preemption law may not apply. About 300 Risperdal cases await trial in California.
If you or your child was prescribed Risperdal and developed gynecomastia, reach out to a qualified product liability attorney to have your case reviewed. A personal injury attorney is experienced with the laws in your state and can help you fight to get financial compensation.