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Risperdal Settlements and Verdicts

Supreme CourtRisperdal patients continue to come forward, seeking compensation for the many severe injuries they allegedly suffered from the drug.  The Sanders Firm’s veteran product liability lawyers can help such victims understand their options and decide whether to file a Risperdal lawsuit.

In our 45-plus years of experience, we have helped hundreds of people injured by dangerous drugs and defective products recover substantial sums – over $100 million just in the last five years.

Risperdal complications

Risperdal is an anti-psychotic drug that was approved by the FDA in 1993 to treat schizophrenia.  Later, manufacturer Johnson & Johnson obtained authorization to market Risperdal as a bipolar disorder treatment.   Before 2006, however, the drug was not approved to treat children for any purpose.  In that year the FDA authorized Risperdal as a treatment for pediatric bipolar disorder and symptoms such as aggressiveness and irascibility displayed by some children with autism.

Reported side effects of Risperdal are severe, and in many instances life-changing:

  • Tardive dyskinesia (persistent spasms of the face, tongue and other body parts), which has no known treatment and may continue despite ending Risperdal use
  • Gynecomastia (abnormal male breast growth)
  • Stroke
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (a neurological condition that can be fatal)
  • Diabetes
  • Serious menstrual disorders including dysmenorrhea (when menstruation stops altogether)
  • Extremely long-lived and painful erections
  • Ongoing muscle spasms and stiffness
  • Levels of white blood cells so low as to be potentially fatal

Risperdal gynecomastia litigation

Hundreds of Risperdal lawsuits have been filed charging that boys and young men who took the drug developed the abnormal breast growth condition known as gynecomastia.  Many of these cases are being handled as part of a consolidated proceeding in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

In October 2012, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen agreed to settle five of the gynecomastia lawsuits pending in the Philadelphia court.  Trial in the cases had begun but the jury had not yet rendered a verdict.  The victims and the manufacturers agreed to keep the terms of the settlement confidential.

Defendants in such lawsuits often insist on confidentiality as a condition of settlement, at least in part to deter other victims from filing a lawsuit or refusing to settle until they receive a similar amount.

The first of over 1000 more Risperdal product liability lawsuits pending in Philadelphia went to trial in early 2015, and resulted in a jury award of $2.5 million for plaintiff Austin Pledger, who took the drug to treat autism in 2002 and developed gynecomastia. The jury agreed with the plaintiff’s argument that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers and their prescribing physicians about the risk of excessive male breast growth as a result of taking the drug.

Though the jury’s decision is not binding for any of the pending cases in Philadelphia, it could in theory spur Risperdal settlement negotiations between Johnson & Johnson and the remaining plaintiffs.

Tardive dyskinesia verdicts

To date juries have decided at least two Risperdal lawsuits in which patients developed tardive dyskinesia.  In one of the first lawsuits alleging Risperdal complications, a Philadelphia jury awarded $6.7 million to a woman who suffered tardive dyskinesia due to her use of the antipsychotic.  The woman had been prescribed Risperdal as a maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder.  During her fourteen-month use of the drug, she became afflicted with a severe case of the movement disorder, which lasted even after she stopped taking Risperdal.

In another case, a jury in Chicago returned a verdict in favor of a boy with autism who acquired tardive dyskinesia during 2 ½ years of treatment with Risperdal.  In February 2014, the jury awarded the boy $1.5 million to compensate him for his disabling and irreversible symptoms.  The child displayed not only the typical spasmodic twitching of his face, eyelids, and tongue that are associated with tardive dyskinesia, but also a severe case of tardive akathisia, which involves tortuous internal spasms that cause constant, unstoppable motion.

Lawsuits like these require genuine experts in both the law and the science of Risperdal.  Sanders’ Risperdal attorneys work closely with physicians and researchers, who can explain the chemical workings of Risperdal in the body and show a jury just how the drug may cause devastating side effects.

Criminal and civil settlement with U.S. government

After a nine-year investigation, in November 2013 Johnson & Johnson and Janssen agreed to pay $2.2 billion to settle with the U.S. Department of Justice in a wide-ranging Risperdal lawsuit.  The settlement involved criminal penalties of $485 million, as well as civil penalties totaling $1.72 billion, and was among the largest health-care fraud recoveries in American history.

The settlement also required the drug makers to plead guilty to a criminal charge involving its fraudulent marketing campaign aimed to increase the use of Risperdal to control the often hard-to-manage conduct of elderly patients with dementia.

In settling the lawsuit, the Attorney General acknowledged the assistance of five former Johnson & Johnson employees who acted as whistleblowers regarding Risperdal.  One of the workers wore a concealed recording device while attending a Risperdal sales conference, to document the unlawful actions being advocated by drug company officials.  Under the federal False Claims Act, each of the whistleblowers will receive roughly $29 million.

State consumer fraud Risperdal settlements

In August 2012, Johnson & Johnson settled a consumer fraud case with 36 states and the District of Columbia over its unlawful promotion of Risperdal.  The company paid $181 million to resolve charges that it had marketed the drug for unapproved uses, including the treatment of depression, anxiety, and dementia in elderly patients.  The states also alleged that the drugmaker misrepresented the risks of using the drug.

In a separate action, Johnson & Johnson was assessed a $327 million civil penalty in South Carolina.  Still another case ended in a $158 million settlement with the state of Texas.  A sixth former employee turned whistleblower received $20.3 million as a result of this action.

Leading product liability attorneys

Complex product liability cases involving dangerous drugs are specialties of the attorneys at The Sanders Firm.  In our four-decade history, we have sued dozens of companies that put profits ahead of patient safety, and recovered millions to compensate the victims of such wrongful acts.

We encourage you to contact us if you’ve been injured by Risperdal, or if a member of your family has suffered from its use.  Call today at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY to arrange your free case evaluation.

  1. Philly.com, Man, 20, awarded $2.5M in damages after drug gave him breasts, https://www.philly.com/philly/news/20150225_Man__20__awarded__2_5M_in_damages_after_drug_gave_him_big_boobs.html

  2. U.S. Department of Justice, “Johnson & Johnson to Pay More Than $2.2 Billion to Resolve Criminal and Civil Investigations,” November 4, 2013,https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/November/13-ag-1170.html

  3. Huffington Post, “$1.5 million award in autistic child tardive dyskinesia legal case,” March 3, 2014 https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-peter-breggin/15-million-award-in-child_b_4861391.html

  4. NY Times, “Johnson & Johnson Unit Settles State Cases Over Risperdal,” August 30, 2012 https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/31/business/johnson-johnson-unit-settles-state-cases-over-risperdal.html?_r=4&

  5. The Philadelphia Courts, First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, “In re Risperdal Litigation: Case List” https://www.courts.phila.gov/apps/clc/caselist.asp?search=Risperdal

  6. U.S. Department of Justice, “Johnson & Johnson to Pay More Than $2.2 Billion to Resolve Criminal and Civil Investigations,” November 4, 2013,https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2013/November/13-ag-1170.html

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