Judge slashes $8 billion Risperdal award against Johnson & Johnson to $6.8 million

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for Johnson & Johnson is displayed on a screen to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the company’s listing at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – A Pennsylvania judge on Friday slashed to $6.8 million from $8 billion a punitive damages award against Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) for allegedly failing to warn men that they could grow breasts by using its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

The decision by Judge Kenneth Powell of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to reduce punitive damages for the plaintiff Nicholas Murray followed a jury’s imposition of the original award last Oct. 8.

No reason was immediately given for the reduction, which was disclosed in court records.

Murray, like other male plaintiffs in mass tort litigation over Risperdal, claimed that he developed breasts after being prescribed the medicine when he was a boy. He was 26 when the jury made the $8 billion award.

Both sides pledged to appeal.

“The ruling is wrong (and) provides essentially no punishment for the worst of the worst of corporate misconduct,” Murray’s lawyer Thomas Kline said in an email. “We believe that when the merits are reviewed that the $8 billion will be reinstated.”

Johnson & Johnson said that while the court “appropriately reduced the excessive punitive damages award,” the trial judge wrongly excluded evidence that the label for Risperdal “clearly and appropriately” outlined the risks of use.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Richard Chang

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