NJ Supreme Court Ruling Good News For Accutane Inflammatory Bowel Disease Lawsuits
Tracy Ray | March 20th, 2012
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently made a ruling that could directly benefit other Accutane lawsuits, as well as those involving ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The ruling relates to the statute of limitations in filing such a lawsuit.
The case in question was that of Kamie Kendall, who began taking Accutane when she was 12 to treat her acne. She subsequently was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and ultimately had to have surgery to remove her colon. She filed a lawsuit against Accutane manufacturer Hoffman-LaRoche and its parent company, Roche, in December of 2005.
Jury awarded plaintiff 0.5 million, but Roche appealed
The jury awarded Kendall 0.5 million, but Roche appealed the verdict, claiming that Kendall had filed her lawsuit after the two-year statute of limitations had run out. The company pointed out that it had added inflammatory bowel disease warning to the drug’s label of side effects from Accutane use in August of 2003, and argued that adding that warning started the clock running on the two-year window to file Accutane inflammatory bowel disease lawsuits. Kendall’s lawsuit was filed in December of 2005, two years and four months after the warning was added.
NJ Supreme Court denies Roche’s claim
In its decision, handed down on February 27, 2012, the New Jersey Supreme Court disagreed with Roche, saying that although Roche added the warning to the label in August of 2003, there is no reason to presume that Kendall would have known about the risk of inflammatory bowel disease after Accutane use before December of that year, or realized that her ailments had been caused by the acne drug. Kendall’s case will now likely go back to court for a retrial.
The court’s reasonable flexibility regarding the statute of limitations is good news for the approximately 7,000 plaintiffs in the mass tort Accutane cases pending in the same court. Since Accutane users are generally young teenagers, and therefor minors, and some side effects take years to first manifest, it is significant that the court’s ruling does not support a single, inflexible window of opportunity to file these lawsuits.
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- 3 Million Accutane Crohns Disease Case Remanded