Johnson & Johnson has appealed the $48 million jury award for a man who developed a severe skin condition from taking the pain reliever Motrin. Johnson & Johnson claimed the jury’s “confused” verdict form responses were irreconcilably inconsistent. J&J and its subsidiary co-Defendant McNeil Consumer Healthcare argued to an appellate panel that while the jury had found Motrin did not “present a substantial danger,” they nonetheless found McNeil should have known that “Motrin was dangerous or was likely to be dangerous,” and negligently failed to warn the man.
In his suit, Christopher Trejo alleged he suffered Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and its more severe variation, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, after taking Motrin at the age of 16 to treat aches and pains. It was contended in the suit that McNeil and J&J should have placed warning labels on the medication about the risk of the extreme reaction.
In October 2011, jurors awarded Trejo about $32 million in compensatory damages, including $11 million to cover the cost of future medical expenses and future lost earnings, and $22 million in noneconomic damages, including mental suffering and pain. The jury also awarded $16 million in punitive damages: $7 million against McNeil and $9 million against J&J.
Earlier that year, a California appellate court denied J&J’s petition to dismiss the lawsuit, ruling the company bore responsibility for the content of its labels at all times. Labels for prescription Motrin had long contained an explicit warning about the potential skin reactions associated with the medication, indicating the company should have known about the potential for a more extreme reaction associated with ingesting the medication, the appeals court said.
The over-the-counter version Trejo used didn’t include a warning at the time he developed his severe reaction. The label has now been changed. Months after Trejo was hospitalized, the FDA required the company to post more explicit information about the potential skin reaction.
It was reported that Trejo had aspirations of becoming a professional soccer player before he was hospitalized. He is represented by Brian D. Witzer and Michael P. Manapol of the Law Offices of Brian D. Witzer Inc. and Jeffrey Isaac Ehrlich of The Ehrlich Law Firm. The case is Christopher Trejo v. Johnson & Johnson et al., (case number B238339) in the Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District.
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