Reports indicate that some Accutane lawsuits could be heard in New Jersey state court later this year and early next year. Judge Carol E. Higbee reportedly issued a court order that eight cases will begin jury selection in October 2011, while four more cases will begin jury selection in January 2012.
Lawsuits have been filed against the maker of Accutane alleging the acne medication is responsible for people developing inflammatory bowel disease, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Many lawsuits have resulted in awards for the plaintiffs, although some lawsuits grouped together resulted in mixed awards.
Earlier this year, three lawsuits were grouped together, with the jury awarding $2 million in damages to one plaintiff, but not awarding any damages to the other plaintiffs. The lawsuits included that by actor James Marshall, who alleged his career was negatively affected by his use of Accutane. The jury in his case found that he had a preexisting condition, therefore his health problems were not caused by Accutane. In one of the other cases, the jury found that although the patient was not adequately warned about the risks associated with Accutane, that lack of warning did not affect her use of the medication, and therefore the drugmaker is not responsible for her health problems.
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A previous victory for the plaintiff that was overturned involved Andrew McCarrell, who was awarded almost $3 million in his initial lawsuit. Roche, maker of Accutane, appealed that verdict and won, but on retrial, McCarrell was awarded $25 million in damages. McCarrell filed his lawsuit after developing inflammatory bowel disease. The plaintiff required five surgeries to treat the disease, including one surgery in which his colon was removed.