Credit: khemporn tongphay/Shutterstock.com Credit: khemporn tongphay/Shutterstock.com

 

A Philadelphia judge has thrown out a Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuit in the middle of trial, the second time that’s occurred in the mass tort litigation based in the city.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Kenneth Powell granted Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ motion for nonsuit in the case of Hibbs v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals on Monday morning. No accompanying opinion or explanation for the ruling was issued with the order.

A previous Risperdal case met a similar end in December when Common Pleas Judge Sean Kennedy dismissed the case T.M. v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals on the 11th day of trial. Kennedy’s ruling from the bench, which came a few days into the defense’s case, was based on his determination that the plaintiff’s causation expert’s testimony was inadequate.

In the Hibbs case, Janssen similarly argued the plaintiff—Dean Hibbs, who claimed Janssen failed to warn about the risk of developing gynecomastia from taking Risperdal—did not provide enough evidence to support his claims.

Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin represented the Hibbs family.

In an email, Itkin said, “Johnson & Johnson thinks the best way to avoid responsibility in a Risperdal case is to keep it from going to a jury.” He added, “We are confident this decision will be overturned on appeal, and we will keep fighting for the Hibbs family until their case is decided by a jury—not by a judge.”

Reached Monday, a Janssen spokesperson said, “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.”

Risperdal cases have had mixed results in Philadelphia courts. Some have achieved multimillion-dollar verdicts for plaintiffs, while one jury came out in favor of Janssen. Others have been thrown out by judges.

One things is certain about the mass tort, however, and that is its growing volume within the Philadelphia court system. Risperdal filings grew by 550 cases, or 39 percent, last year compared with 2015, with thousands more waiting in the wings, according to attorneys involved in the litigation interviewed earlier in the year.

Although the litigation over the drug Reglan remains the largest single mass tort program in Philadelphia, the only two pharmaceutical programs to see any growth over 2016 were the litigations over Risperdal and the blood thinner Xarelto. All other pharmaceutical mass torts lost between 6 percent and 100 percent of their inventory in 2016.

P.J. D’Annunzio can be contacted at 215-557-2315 or pdannunzio@alm.com. Follow him on Twitter @PJDannunzioTLI.