A jury on Tuesday said drugmaker Johnson & Johnson must pay $8 billion to a man who accused the company of failing to properly warn that its antipsychotic Risperdal could cause breast growth in men, according to Reuters.
Nicholas Murray had previously been awarded $1.75 million in the case in 2015 after a jury found the company failed to warn of the risk of the condition, gynecomastia. While a Pennsylvania appeals court upheld the verdict last February, it reduced it to $680,000.
Plaintiffs in the mass tort case were previously prohibited under a 2014 ruling that found a New Jersey law prohibiting punitive damages should apply to all cases, as J&J is headquartered in New Jersey.
However, Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled in 2018 that the law of each plaintiff’s state should apply instead.
“This jury, as have other juries in other litigations, once again imposed punitive damages on a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients,” Murray’s attorneys, Tom Kline and Jason Itkin, said in a joint statement.
“Johnson & Johnson and Janssen chose billions over children,” they added, referencing the subsidiary that produces the drug.
J&J called the amount “grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award in this case,” saying “the company is confident it will be overturned.”
The figure will likely be reduced on appeal, according to Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, who cited a Supreme Court decision finding “few awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages, to a significant degree, will satisfy due process.”