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Jury finds for J&J in Motrin suit

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Bloomberg News / July 18, 2008

MALIBU, Calif. - Johnson & Johnson and its McNeil unit were cleared by a California jury of liability for injuries suffered by a girl whose allergic reaction to Children's Motrin left her blind.

J&J failed to adequately warn of risks of contracting Stevens-Johnson syndrome, the disease that caused Sabrina Brierton Johnson's blindness, the state court jury in Malibu found. Still, the lack of a warning wasn't a factor in her blindness, the jury said yesterday.

Johnson's family sought almost $1 billion in damages. The 11-year-old broke out in blisters that almost destroyed her eyes five years ago after taking Children's Motrin for a fever, her lawyer, said. The family claimed J&J ignored the drug's dangers.

Christy Jones, J&J's lawyer, told the jury the plaintiffs failed to prove that ibuprofen, the active ingredient in Children's Motrin, was the likely cause of the girl's Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

"It's so rare it's difficult to determine what causes it," Jones said. Johnson also was diagnosed with herpes and chicken pox, which may have caused an immune-system reaction that resulted in the syndrome, Jones said.

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