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Joe Babington Helps Janssen Pharmaceuticals Win Summary Judgment in Risperdal Case

Helmsing Leach partner Joe Babington, along with Gregg Mackuse and Heather Giordanella of the Drinker Biddle & Reath law firm in Philadelphia, recently secured summary judgment for Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in a case pending in the Northern District of Alabama that involved Janssen’s anti-psychotic medication, Risperdal.  In Drake v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharms., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47164 (N.D. Ala. Mar. 22, 2018), the plaintiff, an obese 36-year-old man diagnosed with schizophrenia, claimed that his prescribed use of Risperdal resulted in him developing gynecomastia, the benign enlargement of glandular breast tissue in males. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not meet his burden of establishing causation.  The judge stressed that the plaintiff was required to prove both general and specific causation and that expert testimony was required for both.  The plaintiff’s expert had testified that the risk of gynecomastia in children and adolescents is higher than Risperdal’s labeling represented.  As the court noted, however, while the expert’s “report and deposition testimony from other cases might be sufficient to raise a question of fact regarding general causation, . . . his report and testimony contain[ed] no evidence regarding the cause of [the plaintiff’s] alleged injuries. Id. at *13.  Moreover, the plaintiff had no other causation expert.  As a result, the court found ”the plaintiff’s evidence concerning specific causation [was] threadbare.”  Id.  In fact, there was no evidence that the plaintiff had even been diagnosed with gynecomastia.  In granting summary judgment to Janssen, the court noted that, “[i]n the absence of medical or expert evidence, a fact finder must speculate about the cause of [the plaintiff’s] enlarged breasts, and a verdict may not rest on speculation.”  Id.

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