Risperdal: Punitive Damages in Question

A Risperdal case initially earning a $1.75 Million verdict was capped and reduced to $680,000, but is now back in court. The Pennsylvania Superior Court sent the case back to trial court to investigate whether a new trial should occur which allows for punitive damages.

A decision had previously been made that applied New Jersey law to all Risperdal litigation globally. New Jersey products liability law specifically prohibits punitive damages. However, that ruling was reversed in January in another case where the Superior Court determined that plaintiffs should indeed be allowed to seek punitive damages in relation to the law of their home state. That decision opens the door for all plaintiffs, an estimated 6,000, to seek recovery of punitive damages.

Of course, the maker of Risperdal, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, wants the jurisdiction to remain as New Jersey and is fighting punitive damage claims. The company claims punitive damages hinge on allegations that the company misled federal regulators, consultants, physicians and the public – all of which allegedly happened in New Jersey.

Risperdal is an antipsychotic drug approved to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability associated with autism. Doctors also widely prescribe the drug for unapproved uses including, ADHD, anxiety, sleep difficulties, and depression. The drug carries several risks such as gynecomastia which is the enlargement of male breast tissue.