Accutane Ulcerative Colitis Lawsuits: The Story So Far
Tracy Ray | March 8th, 2012
In the wake of thousands of lawsuits alleging ulcerative colitis, Crohns disease, and inflammatory bowel disease from Accutane, the anti-acne drug was withdrawn from the market in 2009. However, to this day, manufacturer Hoffman-LaRoche maintains that the drug does not cause ulcerative colitis – even though the company’s own 1981 study found that one out of five patients who took Accutane subsequently suffered from gastrointestinal side effects, which can include inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohns disease from Accutane.
Biggest payout so far
The biggest award for damages so far in an Accutane litigation was that of Andrew McCarrell of Alabama, who won $25 million. It was a long hard fight, however. McCarrell’s first trial in 2007 ended with an award for $2 million, but Hoffman-LaRoche parent company Roche successfully filed to overturn that trial because the company had not been allowed to present evidence regarding the total number of Accutane users. A retrial was held in 2010, and this time, McCarrell was awarded $25 million. But Roche filed for yet another retrial. However, Judge Higbee of the Superior Court of New Jersey denied the company’s motion, so the verdict finally stood. McCarrell was originally diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, but the diagnosis was later changed to Crohns disease.
Most famous Accutane plaintiff
The most high-profile plaintiff in an Accutane lawsuit was actor James Marshall, best known for playing James Hurley in the TV show “Twin Peaks,” who filed a lawsuit in 2008 along with co-plaintiff Gillian Gaghan. Both Marshall and Gaghan claimed that they suffered from ulcerative colitis after taking the drug.
Gaghan was awarded $2 million. But Marshall’s case was hampered by the fact that he had previously experienced an intestinal problem at the age of 18, which made it harder to prove that his current problems were solely caused by the drug. In his case, the jury found in favor of Hoffman-LaRoche.
One trial, three plaintiffs, three payouts
In 2008, three lawsuits filed by plaintiffs from Florida were combined into one trial, which took place in Atlantic City, N.J. The three plaintiffs – Jordan Speisman, Lance Sager, and Kelly Mace – had all taken Accutane as young teenagers, and all three later suffered from inflammatory bowel disease. The jury awarded a total of 2.89 million in damages: $8.5 million to Speisman, $2.5 million to Sager $2.5 million, and .5 million to Mace. In addition to the compensatory damages, the jury also awarded medical expenses to the plaintiffs: 42,500 to Speisman, 25,000 to Sager, and 28,000 to Mace.
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