Together, the firms now represent more than eight thousand boys and men injured by the drug Risperdal, a drug which caused them to develop the injury of gynecomastia (female breast-forming on a male).
Over a decade ago, Steven Sheller pioneered this litigation. In March 2015, Tom Kline won the first jury verdict for the failure of Johnson & Johnson to warn physicians of the danger of the development of female breasts in boys who were prescribed the drug for purposes not approved by the FDA.
The plaintiff, Austin Pledger was a boy diagnosed with autism who developed 46DD breasts after taking Risperdal. A Philadelphia jury decided that Johnson & Johnson failed to disclose the risk of gynecomastia on the drug’s label - despite being well aware of the troubling side effect for many years.
The jury awarded Pledger approximately $2.5 million.
That sum is a tiny fraction of the nearly $14 billion in profits the company raked in for 2014. As explained in Steven Brill’s 15-part investigative report, Johnson & Johnson accounts for such expected losses as “accrued liabilities”; it’s a line item big enough to swallow a $2.2 billion criminal fine in 2013 for illegally marketing Risperdal to children and to the elderly. A second jury in the case of William Cirba followed, issuing a verdict that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn another physician.
Currently, the new consortium has two cases already on trial in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. Kline, along with a team from Sheller P.C., returned to a Philadelphia City Hall to fight for Tim Stange, a young man with Tourette Syndrome afflicted with gynecomastia.
Meanwhile, in another Philadelphia courtroom down the hall, the firm of Arnold & Itkin is trying a separate Risperdal case on behalf of Nick Murray, who has gynecomastia in addition to his underlying Aspergers. Both juries have now heard about the off-label use of Risperdal and Johnson & Johnson's concealment of the true relationship of the drug to gynecomastia in boys.
The trials underway in Philadelphia this week - and even the cases set for trial next year - are just the beginning of a long campaign for justice. Each case has its own merits, and each court handles these types of cases differently. It is going to take multiple verdicts in courtrooms across the country to demonstrate the scope of the harm caused by Risperdal and to truly hold Johnson & Johnson accountable.
The formalized partnership between the three firms just makes sense. Combined, Kline & Specter, Arnold & Itkin, and Sheller P.C. represent more Risperdal plaintiffs than any other group of lawyers in the nation. The firms have developed the litigation and will have tried all of the initial cases.
Arnold & Itkin is a Houston-based law firm that has built a reputation for tough litigation.
We’ve won verdicts and settlements totaling more than $1 billion over the last five years. We held BP accountable for the Deepwater Horizon disaster by representing the families of more of the workers injured or killed than any other firm. We have tried cases and won verdicts all over the country, and we have a proven record for holding big pharmaceutical companies accountable for their actions.
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Over the next many months, we’ll be devoting the combined resources of our law firms to fight for justice for the children - many of them with mental handicaps - who were exploited by Johnson & Johnson’s failure to place proper warning labels on its product. We will be sending a message that it is not acceptable for drug companies to make huge profits by misrepresenting and hiding the risks associated with the drugs it makes - especially when children are the victims.