Jury finds J&J not liable in Motrin lawsuit

LOS ANGELES Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:34pm BST

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Malibu, California, jury found Johnson & Johnson not liable on Thursday in a $1 billion lawsuit involving an 11 year-old girl who claimed she was blinded after using the drug Children's Motrin.

The painkiller is made by Johnson & Johnson's McNeil consumer healthcare unit.

The jury voted 9-3 against liability, after a six week trial. Jurors found for the plaintiffs in seven of eight issues but decided that the ninth -- that Children's Motrin caused the injury to the girl, Sabrina Johnson -- was not proved.

"There will be no award," Browne Green, an attorney for the plaintiffs told reporters.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court had alleged that the company failed to label the over-the-counter pain reliever with a warning that it could lead to a rare, but potentially fatal allergic reaction with severe rash of the skin and mucous membranes.

J&J had argued that the condition, known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, could not be directly attributed to Motrin.

Ibuprofen, a widely used pain reliever, is the active ingredient in Motrin, Advil and a variety of other medicines.

The company maintained that its product was safe and that packaging materials adequately warned that a doctor should be consulted if any change of medical condition occurred after a young person was given Children's Motrin.

The family of Sabrina Johnson, who is now 11 years old, had sought $14 million in actual damages, $103 million for the girl's and the family's pain and suffering, and punitive damages of $950 million.

The girl had testified that the undersides of her eyelids felt like sandpaper and that she spent months in a large cardboard box during daylight hours to avoid intense pain in her eyes.

Stevens-Johnson and toxic epidermal necrolysis, a related ailment, are very rare, with about two to three cases per million people reported annually in Europe and the United States.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Deena Beasley; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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