In In re: Risperdal Litigation, No. 100300296 (Philadelphia County Ct. of Common Pleas, May 2, 2014), the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas granted a motion for partial summary judgment brought by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and Janssen Research and Development LLC (Defendants) as to Plaintiffs’ claims for punitive damages for alleged injuries from the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
Plaintiffs filed suit in Pennsylvania state court alleging that Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson unit and the manufacturer of Risperdal, marketed the drug for off-label use while failing to provide adequate information about the associated risks. In its motion for summary judgment, Defendants argued that New Jersey law—which bars punitive damage claims related to a drug that was subject to premarket approval or licensure by the Food and Drug Administration—should apply because any potential punitive conduct over the marketing of Risperdal would have occurred at Janssen’s two New Jersey facilities. In response, Plaintiffs argued that Pennsylvania law or the law of the individual plaintiffs’ states where Risperdal was prescribed, ingested, and marketed should govern. Plaintiffs also alleged that significant wrongful conduct occurred in Pennsylvania because Janssen officials met repeatedly in Pennsylvania to discuss Risperdal marketing strategies and perform significant regulatory compliance, pre-approval submissions, labeling, and testing of the drug. The Court agreed with Defendants and held that New Jersey law applies to the issue of punitive damages, thus barring any recovery of punitive damages.
Plaintiffs regularly bring pharmaceutical products liability suits in states where punitive damages are available. The In re: Risperdal Litigation demonstrates that courts will limit the effects of such forum shopping and, where appropriate, apply the law of the state where manufacturers are headquartered and where drug development and relevant marketing strategies occur.