However, regardless of the fact that Philadelphia remains the focal point in terms of location for consolidation, it is the application of law from a neighboring state that has many Risperdal lawsuit plaintiffs crying foul.
Beyond the allegations that Risperdal use has triggered the growth of breast tissue in males (in more severe cases, men and adolescents have experienced actual nipple discharge), a judicial decision may succeed in limiting a plaintiff’s potential compensation packet.
New Jersey law, through the application of the New Jersey Product Liability Act (NJPLA), holds that plaintiffs cannot seek punitive damages in cases involving drugs duly approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Even though cases are consolidated in Philadelphia, Judge Arnold New of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas noted the “overwhelming” presence of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit in the state of New Jersey and, as such, the NJPLA should apply, barring plaintiffs from seeking punitive damages according to provisions in the Act.
Plaintiffs appealed Judge New’s ruling on grounds that in many cases, Risperdal was prescribed for uses outside the bounds of the FDA’s approved uses profile for the drug. While manufacturers are not allowed to promote a drug to doctors or heath care professionals off-label (for uses not approved by the FDA), a doctor has the authority to do so. Still, noted Risperdal lawsuit plaintiffs in their appeal, the off-label use should nix the application of the NJPLA on those grounds.
The judge didn’t buy it, reaffirming his decision in the fall that there will be no punitive damages forthcoming. He also refused certification.
Punitive damages are an extra layer of compensation often sought in cases where there is a commonality of harms, coupled with an alleged failure on the part of a defendant to save consumers and the general public from those harms. Punitive damages are meant to “send a message” to the defendant and others in their industry that such alleged breaches of safety would not be tolerated.
The loss of punitive damages does not negate the right to pursue compensatory damages for a plaintiff’s pain and suffering. It has been stated that many plaintiffs having suffered from Risperdal and Growing Male Breasts have required treatment ranging from liposuction to reduce the amount of male breast tissue, to an actual mastectomy in order to remove the unwanted tissue.
READ MORE RISPERDAL LEGAL NEWS
Plaintiffs assert that Janssen could have been more forthcoming in its product warnings with regard to the possibility of Risperdal gynecomastia, through a warning first included in product labeling in 2006. Plaintiffs and some doctors have stated that the warnings are inadequate and should be improved.
Janssen, in statements, asserted that in its view the 2006 warning was adequate.
Other side effects include an alleged link between Risperdal and diabetes. Plaintiffs and their attorneys will be watching the horizon for further movement in the Risperdal portfolio in 2015. As of July, Janssen had settled fewer than 100 cases in Philadelphia.