A Philadelphia jury on Tuesday said that Johnson & Johnson must pay $8 billion in punitive damages to a man who says a drug manufactured by the company caused him to grow breasts.
A Maryland man, Nicholas Murray, alleged in a lawsuit that he developed gynecomastia, a condition that caused him to grow breasts, after taking J&J’s drug Risperdal from 2003 to 2008.
Risperdal is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability arising from autism. Murray was prescribed the drug when he was a child for difficulty sleeping, most likely arising from autism, his doctors said.
The lawsuit claimed that J&J knew about the risk of gynecomastia and allegedly failed to properly warn doctors and healthcare providers about it.
A judge originally awarded Murray $680,000 in 2015, but that didn’t include punitive damages. Another judge later ruled that a jury could award those damages.
Murray is one of several plaintiffs making the same claims in a mass tort case against J&J. Mass tort cases are similar to class action suits, but plaintiffs have to individually prove how they were injured.
J&J shares fell 1.75% in after hours trading.
A J&J spokesperson said the company is confident the “grossly disproportionate” award will be overturned, adding that it was prevented from presenting “a meaningful defense” at the trial because the court excluded key evidence.
“This award for a single plaintiff stands in stark contrast with the initial $680,000 compensatory award and is a clear violation of due process,” the spokesperson said. “United States Supreme Court precedent dictates that punitive damages awards that are a double-digit multiplier of the compensatory award should be set aside.”