Judge Kenneth Powell granted the post-trial remittitur motion of Janssen Pharmaceuticalson January 17, 2020, thereby reducing the punitive damages awarded by the Philadelphia jury in October of 2019, down from $8 billion to $6.8 million. Judge Powell oversaw the case when the jury handed down the $8 billion verdict last year. He reduced the amount of punitive damages to a figure ten times the compensatory damages of $680,000.00 awarded to the plaintiff in 2015. Janssen’s post-trial motions were denied in all other respects.
Judge Powell did not issue an opinion or otherwise provide any reasoning with his order and therefore did not explain why the punitive damages award was reduced so drastically. The punitive damages were awarded by a jury against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson, for its alleged failure to warn that Risperdal could cause boys taking the drug to grow breasts. The plaintiff claimed that he began taking Risperdal when he was 9 years old to treat symptoms of autism and began growing breasts, and that Janssen continued to market Risperdal for mental health conditions in children knowing of the drug’s risks. Janssen’s counsel maintains that the company will continue with its appeal of the verdict. Plaintiff’s counsel has said that plaintiff will appeal the reduction in punitive damages. It bears noting that thousands of other Risperdal cases are still pending in Philadelphia.