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Superior Court Rejects Defendant’s Motion regarding SJS Verdict

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Philadelphia, PAThe Pennsylvania Superior Court has decided it will not rehear a Stevens Johnson Syndrome lawsuit in which the plaintiff, who developed Stevens Johnson Syndrome symptoms after using Motrin, was awarded $10 million. The defendant had requested re-argument of the SJS lawsuit, which involved allegations stemming from the plaintiff’s use of Motrin almost 15 years ago.

The lawsuit involved Brianna Maya, who had a cough and a temperature in November 2000, when she was only three years old. According to ABC News (6/3/11), Maya’s parents gave her Children’s Motrin alternating with Children’s Tylenol every three hours. In the days that followed, Maya developed Stevens Johnson Syndrome, characterized by burns and blisters on her body. She was hospitalized in a Texas hospital burn unit, with burns covering around 85 percent of her body, according to reports.

Following the life-threatening ordeal, Maya underwent repeated eye surgeries, suffered repeated eye and lung infections and developed seizures. She has also been told that due to vaginal scarring she will never have normal sexual relations and will never have children.

Brianna’s family filed suit against McNeil-PPC Inc., alleging that Children’s Motrin did not carry adequate warnings about the risk of Stevens Johnson Syndrome. In 2011, a jury agreed with the Mayas, awarding them $10 million for injuries and for McNeil’s failure to warn about the risks. The jury did not, however, find that the Motrin was defective, nor did it find punitive damages were necessary.

McNeil filed an appeal, arguing that the plaintiffs did not show that the absence of a label caused Brianna’s injuries, but a jury panel noted that her mother testified she would have stopped using Children’s Motrin when she first noticed the rash, if the label had instructed her to do so.

The jury panel also rejected McNeil’s claims that attorneys for the plaintiffs inflamed the jury. McNeil then filed to have the case reheard but that motion was denied.

Lawsuits alleging drug companies failed to warn about the risk of SJS associated with their medication have met with mixed results. In some cases, plaintiffs have been awarded damages for their SJS ordeal, in other cases the courts have sided with the defendants.

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