The New Jersey Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favor of an Alabama man who filed a lawsuit for injuries caused by the prescription drug Accutane. The court’s ruling reinstates a $25 million judgment that Andrew McCarrell, an Alabama resident, was awarded by a New Jersey court in 2010. Accutane’s manufacturer, Roche, had successfully appealed that award to the New Jersey Appellate Division in 2015.
According to court documents, McCarrell was prescribed Accutane in 1995 as treatment for a skin condition. He took the medication every day for a four month period. The drugs that he received included warning labels, indicating that Accutane could cause gastrointestinal distress. In addition, McCarrell had a patient brochure and a “Dear Doctor” letter, all advising of the potential side effects.
A little over a year after he started taking the drug, McCarrell developed gastrointestinal problems, leading to a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease. He subsequently required a number of surgical procedures, including the removal of both his colon and rectum. He was given a J-Pouch, but developed complications with that as well.
In 2003, McCarrell filed suit against Roche, alleging product liability. Roche asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, contending that McCarrell was barred under Alabama law from filing a claim. Under Alabama’s statute of limitations, which governs how long a party has to file a lawsuit, McCarrell’s claims were prohibited because too much time had passed between his injury and the filing of his lawsuit. McCarrell’s attorneys chose to file suit in New Jersey, as New Jersey’s law suspends the statute of limitations “until the injured party discovers, or by the exercise of reasonable diligence and intelligence should have discovered” the injury. McCarrell had filed his lawsuit in New Jersey just six weeks after learning that his injuries may have been caused by Accutane.
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