Levaquin Tendon Rupture Lawsuit a $1.8 Million Win for Plaintiff

<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/levaquin">Levaquin maker Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $1.8 million to an elderly man who said the antibiotic caused him to suffer a tendon rupture. The trial was the first of more than 2,600 lawsuits making similar claims about Levaquin.

Levaquin is prescribed for bacterial infections of the lungs, urinary tract, and skin. In 2008, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) required that the labeling of Levaquin and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics be revised to include a Black Box warning about tendon injuries. At the time, the FDA database showed 262 reported cases of tendon ruptures, 259 cases of tendinitis, and 274 cases of other tendon disorders associated with these drugs. The majority of tendon ruptures – 61 percent – were tied to Levaquin. The agency said such injuries were more likely to occur in people who are over 60 years of age, taking steroids (corticosteroids), or who have undergone a kidney, heart, or lung transplant.

All federal Levaquin tendon rupture lawsuits have been consolidated and centralized in Minnesota as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, under US District Judge John R. Tunheim. Plaintiffs claim the tendon injury warning should have been added to the Levaquin label earlier and remains inadequate. They also say Levaquin’s maker, Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho-McNeil-Janssen unit, downplayed the drug’s risk to boost sales.

This first lawsuit to go to trial in the MDL was brought by 82-year-old John Schedin of Edin, Minnesota, who was prescribed Levaquin five years ago to treat bronchitis. His tendon ruptured three days after starting the antibiotic. In court papers, Schedin claimed that his doctors would have prescribed an alternate antibiotic had they known “about the risks associated with Levaquin, especially when taken together with steroids.”

Yesterday, a federal jury ordered Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho-McNeil-Jansen Pharmaceuticals to pay Schedin $700,000 in actual damages and $1.1 million in punitive damages. Actual damages will be reduced by $70,000 under the jury’s finding of 75 percent liability for the company. According to a Bloomberg News report, in ordering punitive damages, the jury found the company acted with deliberate disregard for the safety of others.

Judge Tunheim will convene a status conference “right after” the first of the year, at which time next case for trial in the Levaquin MDL will likely be selected, Bloomberg said.

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