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JCCP 4775 Risperdal Update

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Risperdal litigation has been going on for a few years now. Currently, tens of thousands of Risperdal cases are being filed all over the country. In Philadelphia, about 2,000 plaintiff cases have been filed. There had been settlements as well as verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs. Some of the verdicts had been for $2.5 million, $1.75 million and most recently $75million. In all of these trials, juries have found that Johnson & Johnson (J & J) failed to adequately warn of the risks of gynecomastia. More notably, the jury that rendered the $75 million verdict found that J& J lied and they intentionally falsified, concealed or destroyed material evidence according to a press release from Arnold & Itkin. Plaintiff attorney Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin sealed J&J’s fate when he delivered a forceful closing argument emphasizing J&J’s devious acts behind closed doors intentionally concealing the real risks of ingesting Risperdal in order to rake billions in revenue. The failure to warn claim seems to be the main crux of all these past trials. So far, almost all results have been in favor of the plaintiffs whether it be by verdict or settlement.

In California, hundreds of complaints have been filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court by various plaintiff’s law firm. These complaints comprise approximately 15,000+ claimants. These cases are all part of the Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4775. The JCCP is presided by Honorable William Highberger.

Though the Litigation in California is still in its developing stages unlike in Philadelphia, everything is moving through the legal system accordingly. Over the past year or so, a few summary judgment motions have been submitted and heard by the court. More recently, the first Risperdal bellwether trial in California took place in Los Angeles Superior Court. The suit was brought by a plaintiff named Bradley Wolken, a 24 year old from Kansas. Mr. Wolken was represented by the Sanders Firm while the defense brought in O’Melveny & Myers led by partner Daniel Petrocelli.

The grueling three week trial ultimately resulted in a verdict for the Defendants. The jury returned a verdict for the Defendants because they did not believe that Plaintiff was able to prove that it is more likely than not that he now has or has had Gynecomastia. The plaintiffs made some compelling arguments explaining the science behind Mr. Wolken’s gynecomastia diagnosis and how it was caused by Risperdal. However, Mr. Petrocelli and his team successfully debunked all the arguments. More importantly, Mr. Petrocelli successfully made the jury believe that the reason Mr. Wolken had a Gynecomastia diagnosis was because he was constantly shopping around for one. “Ms. Turner and her son drove 700 miles in search for a doctor who would say what they needed to make a case. After striking out four times in a row, they found Dr. Midyett, who agreed to tell them what they needed to be in court.”

The first Risperdal trial is pivotal for a couple of reasons. First, this provides a good insight not just for the plaintiffs and the defense but more importantly to the Judge presiding over the Risperdal matters in Los Angeles Superior Court. All parties involved have certainly learned a lot by conducting an actual jury trial. Second, the experience helps shape future arguments for the upcoming Risperdal trials in California. Not only did the latest trial show what plaintiffs need to do to show viable injury i.e Gynecomastia, it also showed how a jury in California reacted to the issue of failure to warn. The jury in this case reacted the same way the juries in the Philadelphia trials have reacted; that J & J are liable for failing to adequately warn the prescribing doctor(s) about the risks of developing gynecomastia associated with taking Risperdal. One can argue that although plaintiffs lost this battle, they have not completely lost the war.

Risperdal cases continue to move forward in the court system. We could see another Risperdal trial by May of this year.

Risperdal cases are still currently being filed in California. If you or a loved one have suffered from severe risks due to ingestion of Risperdal, please call our firm immediately.

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