In a new ruling, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania says plaintiffs in the Risperdal litigation can seek punitive damages under the laws of their own home states.
By Laurence Banville
A new decision from the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has opened the way for over 6,000 people who claim severe injuries from the antipsychotic drug Risperdal to seek punitive damages, the Penn Record reports.
Risperdal Cases Can Use Home State Laws, PA Court HoldsIn an opinion issued on January 8, 2018, Judges for the Superior Court ruled that the plaintiffs, most of whom blame the medication for abnormal male breast growth, can use the laws of their own home states to pursue additional compensation from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
Over 6,400 Risperdal lawsuits are now pending in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Most of the cases have been filed by out-of-state plaintiffs.
Judges Loosen Restrictions Of New Jersey LawThe Superior Court's latest ruling comes after review of Stange v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a case in which a man from Wisconsin accused the pharmaceutical company of providing inadequate warnings for gynecomastia, a swelling of breast tissue in male patients. And, after six hours of deliberation, a jury for the Philadelphia lower court ordered $500,000 in compensation, finding that Janssen's inadequate warnings had directly led to the man's medical condition.
The lower court judge, however, ruled out the possibility of punitive damages, holding that the case should be governed by New Jersey State law, which limits the amount of punitive damages to five-times the amount of compensatory damages.
Will Plaintiffs Opt For New Trials?The plaintiff appealed the decision, arguing that Wisconsin's more-liberal law on punitive damages should apply, an argument that the Pennsylvania Superior Court has now validated. Going forward, the plaintiff in Stange will be able to push for a new trial in which he can use Wisconsin's laws and try to secure punitive damages.
But the Superior Court's decision will have wide-ranging consequences. It applies to all of the Risperdal cases in Philadelphia equally, including lawsuits that have already gone to trial. In one 2016 trial, a young man from Tennessee was awarded $70 million in compensation.