Court upholds $50 million award for girl whose life was destroyed by Johnson & Johnson's Children's Motrin
by: David Gutierrez, staff writer, Natural news, May 18, 2015
(NaturalNews) The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a lower court's judgment that pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson should be required to pay $50 million to a girl who suffered a rare but devastating side effect from Children's Motrin when she was seven years old. The judgment took more than a decade to be reached.
Samantha Reckis experienced toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), which burned off 90 percent of her skin, destroyed 80 percent of her lung capacity and left her blind. Only luck and the efforts of her doctors prevented her from dying or suffering permanent brain damage.
Johnson & Johnson will also be required to pay $6.5 million to each of Reckis' parents. On top of that, the company will owe interest on all three payments, bringing the total owed to more than $109 million.
Widespread organ failureTEN is a severe form of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which occurs most commonly as a side effect of drugs including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, which includes ibuprofen/Motrin), penicillin, anticonvulsants and anti-gout drugs.
Reckis's case was triggered in 2003, when her father gave her two doses of Children's Motrin for a fever and sinus congestion. The next morning, her symptoms were no better, and she had also developed a rash and a sore throat. Her father gave her more Motrin and took her to a pediatrician, who told her parents to give her the drug three times per day.
The next day, Reckis's skin broke out in blisters and her lips began to bleed. She was taken to the hospital, diagnosed with TEN, and placed into a medically-induced coma for a month.
Over the course of six months, Reckis's skin sloughed off and she suffered liver failure, heart failure, a stroke and an aneurysm. Even after 12 eye surgeries, she is still legally blind. She weighs only 82 pounds and has been declared unable to give birth to children. Her lung capacity is still only 20 percent.
Company failed to warn of side effectsIn 2007, Reckis's parents sued drug manufacturer McNeil-PPC and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson. After a five-week trial that concluded in February 2013, a jury agreed with the family that the drug makers had failed to properly warn parents that Children's Motrin could have life-threatening side effects.
Johnson & Johnson appealed the decision. In its ruling, the state Supreme court demolished the company's arguments one by one.
The company had argued that the jury might have made the decision for invalid reasons.
"This is not a case in which there is 'no way of knowing' the basis for the jury's verdict," wrote Justice Margot Botsford in the court's decision. "We are reasonably confident that the jury did not base liability on the defendant's failure to warn of SJS or TEN by name."
The company attempted to discredit the testimony of an expert witness, pharmacologist Dr. Randall Tackett.
"We find no error in the judge's ruling that Tackett was qualified to render an opinion on whether ibuprofen specifically caused Samantha's TEN despite the fact that he was not a physician treating TEN patients," Botsford wrote.
Finally -- and appallingly -- the company claimed that Reckis was not entitled to financial compensation because she had expressed a positive outlook and said she was determined to lead a "great life."
"The jury could applaud this optimism but nevertheless reasonably infer from the significant extent of Samantha's past pain and suffering, and the state of her health, that she will likely experience pain and suffering throughout her life," Botsford wrote
The case is the second in three years where Johnson & Johnson was found liable for severe side effects of Children's Motrin. In a Pennsylvania case completed in 2011, the company was ordered to pay $10 million to a girl who suffered brain damage and lost her sight as well as 84 percent of her skin.
(Natural News Science)
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