A former Accutane user was awarded $9 million by a New Jersey jury against Hoffmann La-Roche Inc. and Roche Laboratories, subsidiaries of Roche Holding AG (ROG). The pharmaceutical companies are based in Nutley, N.J.
The plaintiff, one of four in a combined trial, took Accutane for acne treatment from 1997-1998 when she was a teenager. Katie Rossitto, now a 31-year old mother, developed ulcerative colitis as a result.
She was awarded $9 million in compensatory damages for her injuries.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease that affects the colon causing inflammation, bleeding, diarrhea and pain. It is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Ms. Rossitto was represented by Peter Samberg, David Rosenband, and Kendra Goldhirsch, of Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.
Trial attorney Peter Samberg, Esq., put on evidence on behalf of Ms. Rossitto during an eight-week trial involving dozens of witnesses and lengthy testimony by pharmaceutical industry experts and the client herself.
“Katie, like many of our clients, suffers from the permanent effects of IBD caused by her use of Accutane. While the pharmaceutical company spent millions to promote the use of Accutane, it refused to compensate the many innocent users for the harm it has caused,” explained Samberg.
“We fought to get Katie’s case to trial so a jury could see and hear the truth about Accutane and what it did to her. We will do the same for each of our clients until each has received their just result,” he emphasized.
The jury, as in earlier cases, found that Accutane can cause IBD and that Roche had failed to provide an adequate warning of the risks to which people who took it were exposed. Despite evidence of IBD risk, including ulcerative colitis, Roche did not strengthen their warning and therefore put users at risk of a serious illness.
The client’s case was tried alongside three other Accutane users represented by Seeger Weiss, LLP; Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor P.A.; and Beggs & Lane.
Update: On September 9, 2013, New Jersey Judge Carol Higbee denied a motion made by defendant Roche to set aside this $9 million verdict in favor of Ms. Rossitto.