On the 11th day of a trial on whether Risperdal caused a young man to grow female breasts, a Philadelphia judge who is new to the mass torts litigation, rejected the expert testimony of a physician who has testified in nearly all the Risperal cases, and dismissed the case.
The ruling was shocking, in light of the $70 million verdict returned on July 8, 2016, by a jury also in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas that the antipsychotic drug caused a Tennessee boy to grow female breasts. That case was heard before Judge Paula Patrick. The verdict followed other plaintiff successes, totaling $4.75 million, that plaintiffs have recovered so far in earlier Risperdal cases.
The expert — Dr. Mark P. Solomon — has testified for the plaintiffs since a $2.5 million verdict was returned in Feb. 2014, in favor of the plaintiff, Austin Pledger, who took Risperdal for autism and developed enlarged breasts, or gynecomastia, from taking the drug.
In the latest case, Moroni v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., case number 130501076, state judge Sean Kennedy ruled, “At the conclusion of my research and my staff’s research, it is my opinion that under Texas law, Dr. Solomon’s testimony is legally insufficient to prove causation in this case, and as such, I am granting defendant’s motion for compulsory nonsuit.”
According to the motion for nonsuit filed by Janssen, Dr. Solomon based his opinion solely on reviewing a photo of the plaintiff. Dr. Soloman practices in, among other things, male breast reduction.
“The court’s ruling was totally unexpected in a case which had more than sufficient expert support under the governing law,” said plaintiff attorney Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin LLP said in a statement. “We are confident that the erroneous ruling will be reversed, and our client, Tommy Moroni, will be heard by a jury on another day.”
Moroni’s case was the sixth to go to trial in Philadelphia’s Risperdal mass tort program, which consists of about 2,000 cases.
Plaintiff Tommy Moroni started taking the powerful antipsychotic as a 7-year-old boy living in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 2004 to treat ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. He took the drug for four years, but then a doctor diagnosed him with gynecomastia in Nov. 2010.
The litigation has continued for three years in Philadelphia. Another 16,000 case are consolidated in California Superior Court in Los Angeles with the first trials set for July. Three earlier trials have resulted in verdicts in favor of the injured plaintiff in the amount of $2.5 Million, $1.75 Million, and $500,000. In all the trials, juries have found that J&J failed to adequately warn of the risks of gynecomastia.