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Johnson & Johnson Loses Children’s Motrin Lawsuit

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A Johnson & Johnson (J&J) unit was held liable for the injuries of a 13-year-old girl and must pay the family $10 million in damages. On May 20, a Philadelphia jury found Johnson & Johnson’s McNeil Consumer Products (McNeil) liable for the injuries of Brianna Maya, now 13, who was left blind in one eye and suffered burns over 84 percent of her body after taking Children’s Motrin, reported Bloomberg.com.

The jury deliberated for 10 hours over two days before returning a verdict in favor of the plaintiff who, in 2000, took Motrin to treat a fever and cough when she was 3 1/2. According to Bloomberg, the family sought approximately $5 million in damages to cover their daughter’s medical bills and other expenses.

At trial, the plaintiff contended J&J officials did not include a warning on that year’s label alerting consumers that fever medicine can trigger Stevens-Johnson syndrome, an allergic reaction that can leave patients with damaged eyes, burned skin and a blistered mouth, says Bloomberg.

Lawyers for the J&J unit countered that the plaintiff failed to prove ibuprofen was the cause of Maya’s allergic drug reaction.

The jurors found McNeil negligent for not providing a proper warning with the drug’s risks and that this failure was “a factual cause” of Maya’s injuries.

After the verdict was announced, a lawyer for the plaintiff said that “J&J and McNeil will be called to task” for failing to properly warn parents about Motrin’s risks, says Bloomberg.

This is not the first lawsuit J&J and McNeil have faced over claims of failing to warn consumers of the drug’s link to Stevens-Johnson’s syndrome.

In 2008, a California family sought $1 billion in damages for injuries suffered by their 11-year-old daughter after she took the drug and developed the syndrome. The jury found J&J and McNeil not liable.

A federal jury in Illinois awarded a woman who took Children’s Motrin and suffered similar injuries $3.5 million in damages; however, the award was reversed on procedural grounds, reported Bloomberg.

Maya’s family also claimed the Children’s Motrin was defectively designed and that McNeil officials’ conduct warranted an award of punitive damages, which the jury rejected.

The case is Maya v. Johnson & Johnson, 002879, February Term 2009, Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County (Philadelphia).

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