The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear Johnson & Johnson’s appeal of a $140 million verdict that found the drug manufacturer failed to warn that Children’s Motrin pain reliever could cause a debilitating skin condition. The rejection of J&J’s appeal means that one of the largest verdicts ever awarded in Massachusetts will stand.
The plaintiffs in the case — Samantha Reckis and her parents — filed suit against J&J when Samantha developed toxic epidermal necrolysis after taking Children’s Motrin at the age of 7. Toxic epidermal necrolysis permanently damages the skin’s mucous membranes. Samantha lost 90% of her skin and 80% of her lung capacity. In addition, she is now blind.
Plaintiffs contended that the medication should have carried a warning about toxic epidermal necrolysis and a related skin condition — Stevens-Johnson Syndrome — as a potential side effect. They also said that the drug should have had a general warning that the formation of rashes or blisters could indicate a potentially life-threatening condition.
In their appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Court to overturn the jury award, J&J said that liability rests with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which rejected similar warning labels proposed by a citizens’ petition. The Massachusetts Supreme Court disagreed, saying that the FDA may have approved the warnings if they had been proposed by J&J instead of a citizens’ group.
In 2010, a Philadelphia jury awarded $10 million to the family of a 3-year-old girl who developed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome after taking Children’s Motrin. That verdict was upheld by the state’s Superior Court in 2014. In another ongoing case against J&J in Pennsylvania, the family of another 3-year-old girl claims that Children’s Motrin caused their daughter to lose sight in one eye and more than 30% of her skin.
Showard Law Firm is Tucson’s local law firm for defective drug and medical device claims. If you believe you or a loved one have been harmed by a medication, contact us for a free consultation.