The federal judge who currently is presiding over thousands of lawsuits against Levaquin has decided that it is ok to release confidential company documents from Johnson & Johnson that were previously admitted in the John Schedin Levaquin lawsuit.
Schedin’s Levaquin case awarded him a verdict of $1.8 million in compensatory and punitive damages after it was decided that J&J hid the side effects that were associated with the popular antibiotic —specifically tendon ruptures. J&J is appealing this verdict.
Levaquin (levofloxacin) is a popular yet controversial antibiotic that is manufactured by Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. However, it has been linked to tendon damage and ruptures, resulting in thousands of lawsuits. So far, Johnson & Johnson is currently facing about 2,600 lawsuits against Levaquin alone, and was recently ranked as the company that is facing the highest number of lawsuits in the State of New Jersey.
Schedin’s was the first Levaquin trial to reach a courtroom and get a verdict. The documents from the Schedin trial were sealed after the case was closed. New plaintiffs are now asking that those 115 documents be opened and the protective order against them lifted. Johnson & Johnson’s efforts to prevent the documents from becoming public were refuted by Judge Tunheim when it was ordered last week that they be released, along with the punitive damages order that mentioned some of them. Tunheim’s reasoning behind this decision is based on the judge believing that the drug giant didn’t meet the burden that is necessary in overcoming the “presumption in favor of publication of evidence submitted at trial.”
The court determined that the right for public access to trial documents outweighs the company’s concerns, and that the drug manufacturer failed to give the court sufficient reason to keep the documents secret.
One of Johnson & Johnson’s arguments claimed that the documents were harmful to the company and could cause them to have to face “adverse publicity” that could cause a bias in future lawsuits against them. The judge argued that J&J already accomplished that themselves when they lost the Schedin case.