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Verdict of $25M in Accutane Lawsuit Reinstated by New Jersey Court

In a decision that may have a wide reaching impact on many Accutane lawsuits filed in New Jersey on behalf of individuals left with severe bowel problems following use of the acne medication, the state Supreme Court recently reinstated a $25 million verdict returned in favor of an Alabama man in 2010.

The case stems from a complaint originally filed in New Jersey state court by Andrew McCarrell in 2003, alleging that Roche failed to adequately warn that side effects of Accutane may cause severe inflammatory bowel disease. A New Jersey jury awarded $25.16 million in damages, and the case has been pending on appeal since.

Roche attempted to have the verdict overturned on the basis that the case was not filed in time to meet the Alabama statute of limitations, arguing the deadline for filing the lawsuit should have been dictated by McCarrell’s home state. However, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling, which overturned a lower court decision, indicates that the trial judge properly applied the more liberal statute of limitation laws of New Jersey, under which McCarrell filed his lawsuit in a timely fashion.

At the time the lawsuit was filed, Roche’s North American headquarters were based in New Jersey, and several thousand failure to warn lawsuits have been filed against the drug maker in the state.

After taking the popular acne medication for several months in 1995, McCarrell alleged that he developed inflammatory bowel disease from Accutane. He ultimately underwent five surgeries, had to have his colon removed, and has been left with permanent bowel problems from Accutane that cause him daily pain and anguish.

This New Jersey Supreme Court ruling may pave the way for other Accutane claims to move forward. For about the past 12 years, Accutane injury lawsuits have been centralized in New Jersey state court as part of a multicounty litigation (MCL), which is currently pending before Judge Nelson C. Johnson in Atlantic City.

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