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Failure-to-Warn Case Results in $63 Million Verdict

A recent case illustrates that victims of adverse reactions to a drug can obtain compensation for their injuries if they are willing to travel the often long and difficult road to victory in the court room against a multi-billion dollar defendant.

In February of this year, more than six years after plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, a Massachusetts jury in Plymouth awarded a young girl and her parents a total of $63 million in compensatory damages (plus $46 million in interest and costs) for damages the girl suffered after taking the Children’s Motrin brand of ibuprofen.

This case was just the latest in a series of cases filed against the defendant related to a rare and severe allergic reaction that plaintiffs have contended is caused by Motrin. The early cases all resulted in defeat for plaintiffs, but recently the tide has turned in the wake of growing information about children who have suffered similar injuries, with a Pennsylvania case reportedly resulting in a multi-million dollar verdict in late 2011.

In this most recent case, the plaintiff child – named Samantha Reckis – was just 7 years old when she was given Motrin for treatment of fever and what appeared to be flu-like symptoms. When her fever spiked, her parents consulted medical professionals who advised that they increase the dosage. The plaintiffs’ lawyer contended that this was the worst possible course of action, and that it resulted partly or entirely because the warning label for the Motrin product was inadequate.

Brad Henry of Boston’s Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow, successfully explained to a jury that the top layer of Samantha’s skin first became inflamed and then began to peel away, essentially leaving her entire body “burned” and exposed to infection.

Henry set his sights on proving that the reaction, known as toxic epidermal necrolysis, was actually a rare but well-known side effect for some children who have taken Motrin, a contention that the defendant has refuted in the past.

In Samantha’s case, she reportedly suffered skin burns and a severely inflamed throat, mouth, eyes, esophagus, intestinal tract, respiratory system and reproductive system, forcing her doctors to put her into a therapeutic coma.

The brave young girl also suffered temporary brain damage, permanently lost almost all of her vision, and had her lung capacity significantly and irreversibly reduced, but she battled back from the coma and over a period of years became an honors student at her school.

The defendant reportedly asserted after trial that Children’s Motrin is “labeled appropriately” and is proven as a “safe and effective treatment option for minor aches, pains and fever,” adding that it disagreed with the verdict and would consider remaining legal options (presumably including appeal or settlement for a lesser amount).

If you have taken a drug and suffered what you believe to be an adverse reaction, do not hesitate to contact our office at (312) 477-2500 to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney who can help you determine if and how you might have been harmed by a company’s failure to warn. You can also check out our Website for more information about our law firm, Cogan & Power, P.C.

Sourcing: news reports published by CBS, WBZ Boston, and interview with the plaintiff’s lawyer on WBZ’s Night-side program, hosted by veteran lawyer-journalist Dan Rea.