Pennsylvania State Court Jury Awards $10 Million In 2nd Topamax Birth Defect Trial

PHILADELPHIA — (Mealey’s) A Pennsylvania state court jury on Nov. 18 awarded more than $10 million to a family whose son was born with a cleft palate allegedly caused by his mother’s use of the antiepileptic drug Topamax during pregnancy, according to one of the law firms representing the family (Brayden Gurley, et al. v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc., No. 110502251, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.). 

The jury in the Philadelphia County Common Pleas Court found that defendant Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceutical Inc. failed to warn the doctor of Haley Powell that Topamax taken during pregnancy could cause birth defects.  

Haley and Michael Powell, parents of Brayden Gurley, 5, sued the drug manufacturer.  The case is part of Pennsylvania’s Topamax complex litigation docket. 

The Powells are from South Carolina. 

Knew Of Risks, Didn’t Warn 

In a press release, counsel for the plaintiffs said the defendant, also known as Janssen, allegedly knew about the serious risk of birth defect years before Haley Powell took the drug, but failed to warn doctors about the risk. 

“Clearly, the jury appreciated that these children suffered debilitating birth defects that will require numerous surgeries, as well as severe psychological injuries, that could have been avoided,” the attorneys said. 

On Oct. 30, a jury in the same court awarded a family $4 million in the first Topamax birth defect trial. 

Counsel 

The plaintiffs are represented by Shelley V. Hutson, Blake A. Deady and Scott A. Love of Clark, Love & Hutson in Houston; Rosemary Pinto of Pinto & Feldman in Philadelphia; Kenneth T. “Tommy” Fibich of Fibich, Hampton & Leebron in Houston; Eric H. Weitz of Messa & Associates in Philadelphia; and Danyl S. Patterson of Philadelphia. 

Janssen is represented by Melissa A. Graff, Kenneth A. Murphy and Molly E. Flynn of Drinker, Biddle & Reath in Philadelphia, John D. Winter and James F. Murdica of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler in New York and Charles F. Morrow and Adam J. Spicer of Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada in Memphis.

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