Eleven million dollar birth injury lawsuit over Topamax stands

In a recent birth injury lawsuit, a jury award of $11 million will stand after a judge denied a defendant’s motion for a new trial.

The jury made the award in November 2013 in a lawsuit over birth injuries suffered by a child whose mother, Haley Powell, used the antiepileptic drug Topamax during pregnancy. The suit alleged that the mother’s use of the medication caused the boy to be born with a severe cleft palate and other birth injuries. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that manufactures the drug, was the defendant in the case.

The jury found that Janssen failed to warn the mother of the risk of birth injuries from the use of Topamax during pregnancy.

In denying the motion for a new trial, Judge George W. Overton of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas held that the amount of the award was appropriate given the severity of the injuries. Overton noted that the boy struggles to be understood in conversation, has residual scarring from surgery, and faces future additional surgeries as well as psychological and emotional challenges stemming from the cleft palate.

At the time of the trial, Bloomberg News reported that the plaintiffs’ attorneys claimed that Janssen intentionally withheld safety reports suggesting a link between Topamax and birth injuries.

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