For the second time, a judge in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has thrown out a gynecomastia lawsuit filed against Janssen Pharmaceutical mid-trial.
The Legal Intelligencer reports that on Monday, April 17, Judge Kenneth Powell of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where thousands of Risperdal lawsuits are centralized as a mass tort, granted a motion for nonsuit by the defendant in the case Hibbs v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
In this gynecomastia lawsuit, plaintiff Dean Hibbs echoed allegations made by other plaintiffs that Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals failed to provide adequate warning of the potential risk of Risperdal gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is a condition which causes males to develop female breast tissue. Unfortunately for Hibbs, Judge Powell ruled that his attorneys had not provided sufficient causation to prove that his condition was caused by Risperdal.
Last week, Forbes reported that there are now more than 5,500 gynecomastia lawsuits pending in the mass tort in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. In these claims, plaintiffs have alleged that Janssen illegally promoted their atypical antipsychotic Risperdal (risperidone) for off-label use by young and adolescent males before the FDA had approved it for patients of this age group. Furthermore, plaintiffs claim, Janssen knew or should have known that Risperdal can increase levels of prolactin, a hormone responsible for breast development in females, and that this may lead to a diagnosis of gynecomastia.
Most of the young male patients who have been prescribed Risperdal take the drug to help overcome behavioral issues associated with conditions like autism, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. For many of these individuals, socialization has always been challenging and becomes even more so as they enter the difficult tween and teen years. When a drug that is meant to help them be better at fitting in and interacting with their peers causes these vulnerable patients to develop excessive breast tissue, the ensuing teasing, body image issues, and other consequences of gynecomastia can be especially detrimental and may last a lifetime.
So far, four of the seven Risperdal lawsuits to go to trial in the Philadelphia mass tort have ended in substantial settlements for plaintiffs—including the award of $70 million to a Tennessee boy last summer. One claim has been decided by a jury in the defendant’s favor, and the final two have been dismissed mid-trial when the judge ruled causation had not been proven.
Attorneys for Dean Hobbs have already stated that they will appeal Judge Powell’s dismissal of this case, and that they are confident that any jury would find in Hobbs’ favor.
A spokesperson for Janssen said on Monday, “We are pleased that the court granted our motion for nonsuit. We sympathize with individuals suffering from serious mental conditions, which can have a significant negative impact on a person’s life and on the health and stability of families. Contrary to the impression the plaintiffs’ attorneys have attempted to create over the course of this litigation, Risperdal (risperidone) is an important FDA-approved medicine that, when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, continues to help millions of patients with mental illnesses and neurodevelopmental conditions.”
Janssen’s statement on Monday is the same statement they have issued in the past regarding the mounting litigation they face based on Risperdal gynecomastia claims. It appears as though they continue to be dedicated to defending their drug during Risperdal trials in the hope of more dismissals. However, the fact that Forbes says that the number of Risperdal lawsuits in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has grown by roughly 3,000 so far this year means that it may be to Janssen’s benefit to seek settlements in a large number of these claims rather than risk additional multi-million dollar verdicts.
While it is unclear which direction Risperdal gynecomastia litigation will take, it is clear that plaintiffs continue to come forward in demand of compensation for their physical, emotional, and financial damages believed to be caused by Risperdal side effects. To learn whether you or a Risperdal patient you love may be owed compensation, please contact an experienced gynecomastia lawsuit attorney to schedule a free and confidential legal consultation.