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Wake Up Call: Philadelphia Court Hits J&J Unit With $8B Risperdal Verdict

Oct. 9, 2019, 12:00 PM
  • A Pennsylvania state court jury yesterday hit Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit with an $8 billion punitive damages verdict over its alleged mishandling of marketing for its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. The company is almost certain to appeal the punitive award, which is four times bigger than the next-largest U.S. verdict this year. But it still faces more than 13,000 suits over its Risperdal marketing and alleged failure to warn teens about its health risks. (BN)

  • In Murray v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, attorneys for plaintiff Nicholas Murray, who said he grew breasts after he began using Risperdal at age 9 to treat symptoms of autism, asked jurors to “send a message.” J&J’s Morgan, Lewis & Bockius attorney Ethel Johnson told jurors the plaintiffs failed to meet their burden of proof. (Legal Intelligencer)

  • J&J has had a tough year. In August, an Oklahoma judge ordered the company to pay the state $572 million for its role in the opioid crisis. It has also been hit with big verdicts over claims that its talcum powder led to ovarian cancer, as well as claims that its pelvic mesh and artificial hip products were defective. (NYT)

  • Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young’s legal branch moved past PwC Legal as the strongest brand among alternative legal service providers in a new ranking by legal research company Acritas. Legal units of the Big Four firms held four of the top five places in the ranking for the second straight year. KPMG was No. 4 and Deloitte Legal tied for fifth with Axiom. (

  • Speaking of the Big Four, they could end up winners if a handful of state bar associations follow through on recent proposals to make rule changes that would let nonlawyers and tech companies provide some legal services. Those efforts, mainly aimed at improving access to justice, could eventually spur the American Bar Association to take similar action, ABA president Judy Perry Martinez said. (BLAW via BLB)

  • The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday appeared divided over whether federal anti-discrimination law protects gay and transgender employees. (BLAW)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Paul Hastings’ Washington-based white collar defense partner Robert Luskin is representing Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, who was scheduled to be deposed by House investigators. But the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with impeachment proceedings has complicated matters. (National Law Journal)

  • Seyfarth Shaw said it took a big step in its plan to expand its corporate practice in New York and globally. It added partner Paul F. Kruger as global chair of the firm’s structured finance group in New York. Kruger, who has advised clients in the U.S., Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, arrives most recently from Katten Muchin Rosenman. He’s previously been at Sidley Austin, Linklaters, and Clifford Chance. (Seyfarth)

  • Katten said a prominent federal prosecutor in New Jersey’s “Bridgegate” case, Vikas Khanna, rejoined the firm’s New York office as a white collar litigation partner. (

  • Detroit-based Miller Canfield hired two lawyers away from K&L Gates to open an office in Qatar, with a focus on aerospace, cybersecurity, and defense industry clients. (American Lawyer)


  • Willkie Farr & Gallagher represented Platform Partners LLC in its sale of voluntary benefit platform provider Beneplace to Entertainment Benefits Group, a U.S. e-commerce company specializing in travel and entertainment. (

  • Amag Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced a settlement agreement in its proxy contest with activist investor Caligan Partners. Sidley Austin and Goodwin Procter advised Amag while Schulte Roth & Zabel represented Caligan. (Yahoo! Finance)

  • WellSky, a health and community care technology company, is acquiring Cooley client ClearCare, which provides a tech platform for home care agencies to optimize billing, staff management, care delivery, and referral management processes. (

  • Morrison & Foerster advised biopharmaceutical company Adicet Bio, Inc. on a recent $80 million financing round. ( (

Laterals, Moves, In-house, Promotions

  • Steptoe & Johnson UK added cross-border investigations and defense lawyer Zoe Osborne as a partner in London. She arrives from Clifford Chance, where she was director for investigations. (

  • K&L Gates’ Sydney office added Clifford Chance financial services lawyer Kane Barnett as a partner. Barnett led Clifford Chance’s Australian funds practice. (

  • Reed Smith added Morrison & Foerster capital markets lawyer Tadashi Okamoto, a fluent Japanese speaker, as a partner in its global corporate group in New York. (

  • Blank Rome said intellectual property lawyer Abdul S. Abdullahi rejoined the firm as an associate in Houston. He arrives from Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt P.C. (

  • Clark Hill added former San Francisco Port Commission president Leslie Katz as a San Francisco-based member in its government and public affairs practice. Katz arrives from CKR Law, where she was a partner. She was previously a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig. (

  • Nelson Mullins Broad and Cassel added hospitality attorney Michelle Tanzer in Boca Raton, Florida. She will chair the firm’s global club and branded residences group and co-chair the hospitality, tourism & leisure team. She was formerly a shareholder at Gray Robinson in Boca Raton, where she chaired the residential, resort & club section. (


  • Enhanced national security reviews of deals involving foreign investments in U.S. companies that store large amounts of “sensitive personal data” would likely mean many more transactions would face scrutiny, lawyers said. (Corporate Counsel) (BLAW)

  • Businesses hit with a biometric or health data security breach could face heightened scrutiny in New York under changes to the state’s notification law, privacy attorneys said. (BLAW)

Legal Education

  • The University of Pennsylvania Law School announced a new program aimed at supporting legal tech innovation and entrepreneurship, and preparing students for the changes. (BLAW via BLB)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Molly Ward at