A Pennsylvania state judge has a bid for a new damages trial being sought by a Wisconsin man who won $500,000 from a Johnson & Johnson unit in December after a jury agreed that his use of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal had caused him to grow female breasts. Judge Kenneth Powell in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas rejected arguments that Plaintiff Timothy Stange was entitled to a new damages trial due to both judicial error in pretrial orders and the judge’s refusal to give requested jury instructions. Judge Powell did not issue an opinion alongside his order rejecting the post-trial motion.
The verdict against Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. was the third in a string of victories that Plaintiffs have racked up in litigation in Philadelphia over both alleged side effects of the powerful antipsychotic drug, as well as the company’s purported attempts to hide the risks it posed to adolescents. There are more than 1,600 Risperdal cases pending as part of a mass tort program in the court. As part of a post-trial motion that Stange filed last month seeking a new damages trial, he claimed that a pretrial order entered by the supervising judge of the Risperdal mass tort program had improperly barred Plaintiffs across all cases from pursuing punitive damages.
The motion also argued that Judge Powell had failed to give instructions to the jury about the possibility of ongoing damages from mental anguish from the bullying that Stange has faced. Stange ultimately underwent a mastectomy to have the breast tissue removed. “The error was prejudicial because it foreclosed future damages which, in light of evidence of record, would have amounted to significant additional compensation,” Stange said in his brief.
While Judge Powell rejected Stange’s bid for a new damages trial, he did grant a motion adding just over $35,000 in delay damages to the $500,000 verdict handed down by the jury last month. The judge likewise rejected a post-trial motion from J&J seeking judgment in its favor notwithstanding the verdict on grounds that plaintiffs had not proven the inadequacy of Risperdal’s warning label. A Janssen spokeswoman told Law360 that it plans to appeal the verdict to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Stange is represented by Thomas Kline of Kline & Specter PC and Christopher Gomez of Sheller PC. The case is Timothy Stange v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. et al., in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Penn.
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