Evidence Ruling by Judge on Trial of Tylenol LiverJun 8, 2016
Johnson & Johnson's Tylenol (acetaminophen) has been a popular over-the-counter treatment for pain and fever reduction for decades. Over the years, it has also been associated with serious safety concerns, including possible liver damage.
In a recent case, where Tylenol was allegedly to blame for a woman's fatal liver damage, U.S. District Judge Lawrence F. Stengel of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania made several rulings about what types of evidence could be presented at trial. Judge Stengel responded to 15 plaintiff motions in limine, which are requests to prohibit certain evidence that may be irrelevant, inadmissible, or prejudicial, The Legal Intelligencer reports.
Judge Stengel ruled the plaintiff's accidental death insurance coverage was excluded as evidence. Ruling was delayed by the Judge on information about a new alternative acetaminophen drug and whether it should be excluded or not, citing the need for additional information.
The sister of the woman who died of liver failure in 2010, filed on the deceased's behalf. She alleged that the non-prescription drug was to blame. For fear of the plaintiff's being perceived as a "carpetbagger" for filing her case in Pennsylvania, one of the motions considered involved prohibiting testimony from her home state of Alabama.
Judge Stengel stressed a motion prohibiting mention of the plaintiff's accidental death insurance claim that was paid for by the insurance company, stating the claim should be excluded as hearsay and irrelevant. The conclusion is that the compensation should be based on each Defendant, not on whether compensation had been received by the plaintiff elsewhere, according to The Legal Intelligencer.
A motion to exclude evidence on Johnson & Johnson's Project PAPA was delayed by Judge Stengel. The Project is working on developing an acetaminophen alternative that does not cause liver damage. Stengel citing the need for more information wrote, "Without seeing the contents of specific exhibits, I am unable to weigh the relevant factors. The public's health and safety will likely outweigh any privacy interests the defendants might have in information about Project PAPA's existence and purpose."