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Motrin Lawsuit Verdict: $63M for Girl's Skin Loss, Blindness

By Andrew Lu on February 14, 2013 12:50 PM

A Motrin lawsuit verdict has resulted in a $63 million judgment against Johnson & Johnson. With interest, the award totals $109 million.

Samantha Reckis was 7 years old when she took Children's Motrin ibuprofen a decade ago. Shortly after taking the drug, the girl suffered a serious life-threatening side effect. She lost 90% of her skin, was blinded, and suffered severe respiratory impairment, among other injuries, reports The Associated Press.

The family sued in 2007. This week, the jury finally handed down its verdict, awarding $63 million to the family plus interest, resulting in a total $109 million judgment.

At issue in the lawsuit was the warning label Johnson & Johnson used for Children's Motrin, made by its subsidiary McNeil-PPC Inc. Generally, in a product liability action, a manufacturer can be sued under one of three theories:

  • Defective design,
  • Defective manufacturing process, or
  • Defective warning and labeling.

In this case, the Reckis family argued that Johnson & Johnson failed to meet its labeling requirement. And the jury agreed.

For its part, the health care company argued that it had provided warnings on its labels and that the warnings were adequate, reports the AP. The company also defended the drug, saying that it is safe when used as directed.

This is not the first time that ibuprofen has been linked to serious allergic reactions, and a Johnson & Johnson spokesman added that the label warns consumers to stop using the medication and contact a health care professional immediately, should they suffer an adverse reaction.

The company has hinted that it may appeal the verdict. Some questions they may want to bring up on appeal can potentially include:

  • Jury Instructions. Was the jury properly instructed about the elements of defective warnings and labeling? And did the jury fully understand Johnson & Johnson's duty?

  • Excessive Damage Amount. What is the true value of Samanta Reckis' injuries? No one can deny that the injuries are tragic, but how did the jury reach its $63 million figure?

  • What's an Adequate Warning? What more would be required on the label? The company may request an appeals court revisit the issue that its label was insufficient.

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