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While a steady stream of young men continue to file Risperdal lawsuits, alleging that use the medication as a boy caused the development of male breasts, a Pennsylvania state court judge has dismissed a bellwether case on the 11th day of trial, finding that the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence to support his claim.
Johnson & Johnson currently faces more than 5,500 product liability claims over the failure to warn about the breast growth side effects of Risperdal, with several thousand of those cases filed over the first three months of 2017.
As the litigation continues to grow, a series of bellwether cases continue to go to trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where the state court litigation is centralized as part of a mass-tort. These early trial dates are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be offered throughout the litigation.
Over the past two years, a number of cases have resulted in massive verdicts after juries found that the drug maker withheld information from users and the medical community about the risk of gynecomastia from Risperdal, which often results in the need for surgical breast removal.
In July 2016, the family of a five year old Tennessee boy was awarded $70 million in damages, with other prior verdicts including $500,000 in December 2015, $1.75 million in November 2015 and $2.5 million in February 2015.
Late last year, Judge Sean Kennedy dismissed a lawsuit filed by Tommy Moroni in the middle of trial, finding that the expert witness testimony offered by that plaintiff was insufficient under Texas law applicable to the case, leaving Moroni unable to establish causation between use of Risperdal and gynecomastia breast growth.
This week, a second case was tossed mid-trial, after Judge Kenneth Powell granted Johnson & Johnson a motion for nonsuit after the manufacturer argued that the plaintiff in the case, Dean Hibbs, failed to provide enough evidence to support a flaim for failure to warn. The dismissal of the Hibbs lawsuit was done without an opinion or explanation by the judge, however the decision is likely to be appealed.
Unless the drug maker begins to negotiate Risperdal settlements to resolve large numbers of cases, additional Risperdal bellwether trials are expected in the coming months and years. In addition, the size of the litigation continues to grow at a rapid rate, as more plaintiffs learn that there may be a connection between breast growth experienced in recent years and use of Risperdal.
According to a report published by Forbes.com earlier this month, records from the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas reveal more than 3,000 new Risperdal cases were filed between January and March 2017, more than doubling the size of the litigation. Comparitively, about 550 new cases were filed last year, which represented at the time a nearly 40% increase in the total number of cases filed against Johnson & Johnson and it’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary.