Children’s Motrin case denied Certiorari by U.S. Supreme Court

Children’s Motrin case denied Certiorari by U.S. Supreme Court
On January 19th, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition filed by Johnson and Johnson and one of its subsidiaries. The petition was an appeal from the Massachusetts Supreme Court which upheld a $63 million verdict for Samantha Reckis, a young girl who developed toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) after she had taken Children’s Motrin.

Unfortunately, Samantha Reckis is not the first child that has developed a condition like this as a result of taking Children’s Motrin. Children’s Motrin, manufactured by Johnson and Johnson subsidiary McNeil-PPC Inc., has been known to cause a rare but serious allergic reaction called Stevens Johnson Syndrome, or SJS as well as TEN. SJS and TEN are both characterized by flu-like symptoms, which then turn into a rash and blisters.

Though these diseases are considered rare as they only occur in 1 or 2 per every 1 million people, they are treated as medical emergencies because they can lead to death. Both SJS and TEN can be caused by reactions to medication or an infection. SJS and TEN are in the same class of skin disorders, but TEN is considered the most serious due to it being characterized by blisters that cover 30% or more of the body as well as often affecting the eyes and mouth.

In Samantha Reckis’ case, she experienced the awful side effects of TEN at age 7 after she took Children’s Motrin. As a result of developing TEN, Reckis lost 80% of her lung capacity and 90% of her skin. Unfortunately, Reckis is also blind due to TEN. As a result of her suffering, Reckis filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts against McNeil and Johnson and Johnson.

In 2013, when the Reckis case was being tried in Massachusetts, the jury returned a verdict against Johnson and Johnson and McNeil totaling $63 million. The verdict reached was a direct result of Johnson and Johnson’s failure to warn consumers about the possibility of developing SJS or TEN as a result of taking Children’s Motrin. With interest, this verdict is now $140 million.

Current State of Litigation
Like the Reckis case, other plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against McNeil and Johnson and Johnson as a result of developing SJS or TEN. All of the lawsuits allege that Johnson and Johnson failed to warn the consumers that Children’s Motrin could cause such a devastating skin condition.

The most recent case involves Riley Brown, a child that was 3 years old when she was hospitalized for over 1 month and had more than 30% of her body affected by SJS/TEN. Brown, like Reckis, is now blind as a result. Brown’s case was tried in September of 2015, but ultimately the jury found that Brown had not proved that Children’s Motrin caused her to develop SJS/TEN. As a result, the jury did not reach the issue of whether or not Johnson and Johnson’s warnings on Children’s Motrin were adequate.

As a result of this most recent win for Johnson and Johnson, plaintiffs may have a more difficult time proving that Children’s Motrin caused the development of SJS/TEN. Although lawsuits are still able to be filed against McNeil and Johnson and Johnson, they will be on an individual basis.