Risperdal Lawsuit Over Gynecomastia Dismissed Due to Statute of Limitations

A product liability lawsuit filed by a 24 year old man, which alleges that side effects of Risperdal use when he was a child resulted in gynecomastia breast growth, has been dismissed by a Pennsylvania judge, after finding that the case was filed too late based on the state’s statute of limitations.

The case is one of about 1,200 Risperdal lawsuits currently pending in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, alleging that Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen subsidiary failed to provide adequate warnings about the risk that young boys using their atypical antipsychotic may experience female breast growth, known as gynecomastia.

Many of the complaints have been filed by young adults who were unaware of the link between Risperdal and breast growth until recently. However, this recent ruling may place some of those cases in jeopardy based on the applicable statute of limitations, which vary from state-to-state, but require that any legal actions be filed within a certain amount of time after the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known that the cause of action arose.

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Risperdal Lawsuits

Side effects of Risperdal linked to risk of breast growth among young boys, or gynecomastia.

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In an order (PDF) issued January 13, Judge Arnold New dismissed a complaint filed by Joshua Winter in the Court of Common Please of Philadelphia on March 10, 2014. Judge New found that the statute of limitations on Winter’s Risperdal injury claims began to run by June 30, 2009, at the latest.

Winters was born in May 1980, and used Risperdal in Pennsylvania from about 1997 to 1998, when he was still a minor. According to the complaint, Winters became aware through self-observation that he suffered from symptoms of gynecomastia by the end of 1998. However, he maintains that he did not discover the link between Risperdal and gynecomastia until 2013, when he saw a television advertisement about the litigation.

In a ruling that may have an impact on other Risperdal claims pending in Philadelphia, Judge New found that Winters knew or could have discovered the cause of his gynecomastia by the end of June 2009, finding that the two-year statute of limitations in Pennsylvania was expired by the time he filed his complaint.

“By June 2009, the combination of medical journal articles, print media articles, television media exposure, and lawyer advertising created an environment such that any Risperdal user who exercised even a modicum of diligence should have discovered the link between Risperdal and gynecomastia,” Judge New ruled. “Accordingly, as a matter of law, the discovery rule can only toll the statutes of limitations until a maximum date of June 30, 2009 for plaintiffs who ingested Risperdal prior to October 2006 (when the warnings were updated).”

Risperdal Litigation Status

Johnson & Johnson has been quietly dealing with Risperdal breast growth litigation for years, but the number of cases has continued to grow over the past few years, as more families and young adults learn that there may be a link between problems suffered following a diagnosis of gynecomastia and Risperdal use as a child.

It is unknown how many cases pending involve claims brought by adult males, as a result of Risperdal use when they were a child.

In the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, a series of Risperdal bellwether trials are expected to begin this year, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be offered throughout the litigation.

Although the outcomes of these early test trials are not binding on other cases, they may influence negotiations with Johnson & Johnson to reach Risperdal settlements in an attempt to avoid setting hundreds of individual cases for trial in the state.

In 2012, a series of cases were scheduled to go before juries in Philadelphia, but Johnson & Johnson reached agreements to settle the Risperdal cases just at the trials were set to begin.


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