On January 7, 2013, Philadelphia Judge Nitza I. Quinones affirmed a $10 million jury verdict in favor of Plaintiff Brianna Maya for injuries she sustained after taking over-the-counter Children’s Motrin.
At the age of three, Plaintiff took Children’s Motrin to treat a two-and-a-half day fever. By day three, a rash formed over Plaintiff’s entire body, including her mouth, chest and vaginal area, resulting in Plaintiff’s hospitalization. In an attempt to treat the rash and accompanying blisters, doctors performed several extensive unhealthy tissue removals from Plaintiff’s skin, which required skin grafts from pigs and a cadaver. Within two days, 84.5% of Plaintiff’s skin was an open wound. Plaintiff was then transferred from the hospital in Tennessee to Shriner’s Burn Hospital in Houston, Texas. Doctors there determined Plaintiff had Stevens-Johnsons Syndrome, a disease that causes the body to attack its own skin and mucous membranes, and that Children’s Motrin was the cause of Plaintiff’s injuries.
Plaintiff commenced a lawsuit against Defendant, McNeil-PPC, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, alleging Defendant failed to warn of the risks associated with taking over-the-counter Children’s Motrin. A jury awarded Plaintiff $10 million in compensatory damages and Defendant appealed.
On appeal, Defendant argued that the law of Tennessee, not Pennsylvania, should have governed Plaintiff’s claim as Plaintiff resided and received treatment in Tennessee. Judge Quinones, however, upheld the verdict, finding Pennsylvania bore the most significant relationship between the occurrence of the injury and the parties because manufacturing, labeling and research of the drug occurred in Pennsylvania.
Defendant also argued that the unfavorable verdict was the result of partiality by the jury, or, in the alternative, that Plaintiff’s counsel committed prejudicial misconduct. Judge Quinones rejected both arguments, concluding that the verdict was the result of an engaged jury who found the consequences of Plaintiff’s injuries to be horrific. Finally, while Judge Quinones found both parties to have required the trial court judge to exercise an “extraordinary amount of patience,” she did not set the verdict aside because the jury’s decision seemed based upon the evidence presented and not the result of misconduct.
Since the incident, Plaintiff has undergone 16 eye surgeries, but may still lose vision in one eye. Further, Plaintiff will never be able to expose her skin to the sun, bear children or have a normal sexual relationship. Defendant has appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
COURT: Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
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