(Bloomberg) -- Johnson & Johnson must pay $1.1 million in punitive damages to an 82-year-old man who claimed the firm failed to properly warn of the risks of tendon damage linked to its antibiotic Levaquin, a Minnesota jury said.
The federal court jury in Minneapolis earlier today awarded actual damages of $700,000 in the case of John Schedin, who sued J&J and its Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit in 2008. Schedin, who said he ruptured both Achilles tendons after taking Levaquin, claimed the companies failed to warn doctors and patients of the drug's association with tendon damage.
The trial was the first on more than 2,600 claims in U.S. courts alleging that Levaquin caused tendon damage in patients and that New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J failed to disclose the risk adequately. The jury today, in ordering punitive damages, found the company acted with deliberate disregard for the safety of others.
"We're thrilled with the outcome and feel the jury followed the evidence and came to the right decision," Schedin's attorney, Mikal Watts, said in an interview after the verdict. "They sent a clear message: Pharmaceutical companies should put their patients ahead of their profits."
Ortho-McNeil-Janssen will appeal, said Michael Heinley, a company spokesman.
"The verdict and the amount of the compensatory and punitive damages are at odds with the evidence presented at trial," Heinley said in an e-mailed statement.
"We believe Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., properly informed of the benefits and risks associated with the use of Levaquin, and that the company acted responsibly," he said.
The jury's $700,000 award of actual damages will be reduced to $630,000 on its finding that Schedin was 10 percent liable for the injury, Heinley said.
The jury earlier today rejected Schedin's claim that Ortho- McNeil-Janssen violated Minnesota's consumer fraud law by misrepresenting or concealing information about Levaquin.
The case is Schedin v. Johnson & Johnson, 08-cv-05743, combined for trial in In re Levaquin Products Liability Litigation, 08-md-01943, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota.