December 10, 2010
Minnesota jury rules against Johnson & Johnson in Levaquin case
Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal
MINNEAPOLISâ€” A federal court jury on Wednesday ordered health- care company Johnson & Johnson to pay damages of $1.8 million in the case of an 82-year-old man who sued over claims the antibiotic Levaquin caused him severe tendon injuries.
John Schedin was prescribed Levaquin five years ago to treat a diagnosed case of bronchitis. After three days on the drug, Mr. Schedin ruptured both his Achilles tendons. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration required Johnson & Johnson and makers of similar drugs to print warnings on the risks of tendon injuries.
That same year, Schedin sued Ortho-McNeil-Jansen Pharmaceuticals, the unit of New Brunswick, N.J.-based J&J that markets Levaquin. The Minneapolis jury on Wednesday decided the company must pay Mr. Schedin $700,000 in actual damages and $1.1 million in punitive damages, though actual damages will be reduced by $70,000 under the jury’s finding of 10% liability for Mr. Schedin in response to the allegation that he exacerbated the condition by initially responding to his tendon pain by exercising.
The trial was the first on more than 2,600 other U.S. lawsuits making similar claims. Mr. Schedin’s attorney Mikal Watts called the trial a bellwether case that he expected would hasten settlement talks in those suits.
“Johnson & Johnson failed to warn these doctors of something they knew would hurt these patients and that’s conduct that should not be tolerated,” the attorney said. “The award of punitive damages in particular sends a powerful message.”
Michael Heinley, spokesman for Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, said the company was disappointed with the jury’s decision and plans to fight the plaintiff’s claims on appeal.
“The verdict and the amount of the compensatory and punitive damages are at odds with the evidence presented at trial,” Mr. Heinley said in a prepared statement. “We believe Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. properly informed of the benefits and risks associated with the use of Levaquin, and that the company acted responsibly by providing appropriate and timely information about Levaquin.”
The article can be found here