ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., March 11, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A jury in New Jersey returned a $1.59 million verdict to a former Accutane user against N.J.-based pharmaceutical companies Hoffmann La-Roche Inc. and Roche Laboratories. The plaintiff, Kamie Kendall Rees, was prescribed several courses of Accutane for treatment of her acne in the 1990s, starting at the age 12. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Kendall Rees developed ulcerative colitis—a permanent, debilitating disease. Unable to manage her disease, Ms. Kendall Rees was later forced to have her colon removed. The trial was a re-trial of a 2008 verdict challenged by Roche to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The trial team was led by Michael Hook of Hook Bolton (Pensacola, Florida) and David Buchanan of Seeger Weiss LLP (New Jersey/New York). Further representing Ms. Kendall Rees were Mary Jane Bass and Jack Lurton of Beggs & Lane LLP, and Bill Cash and Troy Rafferty of Levin Papantonio.
In response to the verdict, Mr. Hook stated: "We're extremely pleased for Kamie. She has suffered greatly at the hands of Roche's drug, and the jury's verdict provides a measure of justice for her." Buchanan added, "The evidence revealed that Roche withheld its knowledge and conclusions about the risk of ulcerative colitis from doctors prescribing the drug, and thus patients, like Ms. Kendall Rees, and their parents who permitted its use, were completely unaware of the risks of this debilitating disease."
The trial was the seventh New Jersey trial concerning Accutane to reach a verdict. In the prior six trials on behalf of twelve former Accutane users, those juries also found that Roche had failed to provide an adequate warning of the risks of inflammatory bowel disease with Accutane. There are currently more than 7,000 cases pending in New Jersey and elsewhere on behalf of former Accutane users who developed serious gastrointestinal diseases after using the drug.
Mr. Hook commented that, "Though the jury's verdict only formally applies to Kamie, it's an extremely positive result for plaintiffs in the remaining approximately 7,000 inflammatory bowel disease cases pending in New Jersey and elsewhere." Ms. Kendall was prescribed Accutane in the late 1990s—from 1997 through 1998. Mr. Hook further noted that, "From 1984 through 1998, Roche failed to strengthen the warning in the Accutane label in the face of mounting internal and external evidence of the severe risk of ulcerative colitis with the use of its drug. The jury's finding that the label was inadequate through as late as 1998 will have broader impact in other cases going forward."
Similarly, Mr. Buchanan emphasized the broader significance of the jury's rejection of Roche's defense that Accutane does not cause ulcerative colitis, adding: "Like the juries in each of the prior trials that were asked the question, the jury here concluded that Accutane is a cause of inflammatory bowel disease, in this case, ulcerative colitis." Referred to in legal circles as "general causation," Mr. Buchanan noted that, "At this point, Accutane's role as a cause of ulcerative colitis is a settled issue. Roche's continued denials in the face of seven juries in New Jersey, and one in Florida, stating otherwise is a continuing insult to the many who have already suffered so much due to this drug."
Hook Bolton (www.hookbolton.com) is a Pensacola, Florida-based personal-injury law firm. Seeger Weiss LLP (www.seegerweiss.com) is a New York/New Jersey trial law firm focusing on complex and catastrophic injury litigation. For more information, please contact Michael Hook (850-433-0809) or David Buchanan (212-584-0700).
Michael Hook (850-433-0809) David Buchanan (212-584-0700)