In Philadelphia last month, a jury found that Tennessee minor plaintiff Andrew Yount was entitled to a staggering $70 million from Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. This is just the beginning. Janssen and Johnson & Johnson still face thousands of lawsuits alleging that the company’s drug Risperdal, aimed to combat psychosis in adults, caused the growth of female breast tissue in young male users (gynecomastia), and that J & J knew and hid the risks from the public, and failed to warn the public.
The Yount case was the fifth Risperdal case tried in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. Four of the five have yielded plaintiff’s verdicts, though none so high as this one. Jason Itkin, of Arnold & Itkin in Houston, represented Yount. He believes, along with other legal commentators, that there will be additional large verdicts to come. Itkin said, “Every jury that has heard the evidence has concluded that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn doctors and the public about the risks of its drug.”
As in the other Risperdal trials, Janssen was found liable in the Yount case for not disclosing the side effects to patients of taking Risperdal, and the jury found, for intentionally falsifying, concealing or destroying evidence. This verdict did not include punitive damages. J & J will appeal and on appeal the Younts will seek punitive damages as well, given the willful nature of the defendant’s behavior.
Evidence known in the case as “Tab 4,” became publicly available for the first time during the Yount trial. Tab 4 includes scientific data showing a link between Risperdal and gynecomastia. Yount alleged and the jury agreed that Johnson & Johnson intentionally kept Tab 4 secret, withholding the damning information from the FDA and preventing its contents from appearing in published scientific studies.
This new evidence comes on the heels of a 2012 $2.2 billion fine against Johnson & Johnson for criminally marketing Risperdal off-label. The potential financial and reputational fallout from the Risperdal cases already is and could be even more enormous, perhaps large enough to discourage pharmaceutical companies from withholding information in the future.
Andrew’s father, Terry Yount, said, “We are glad that Andrew’s suffering now stands for something. We hope this verdict gives hope to the thousands of other boys who were disfigured by Risperdal that they will get justice too. We’re proud that a family from a little town in Tennessee was able to stand up against one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and hold them accountable for the harm they have caused our son.”
The Yount Family is also represented by Tom Kline of Kline & Specter, and Mr. Kline is the lead counsel in consolidated Risperdal cases.
The verdict is styled: A.Y. v. Jannsen Pharm., Inc., Pa. Ct. Com. Pl., No. 130402094, verdict 7/1/16.