West Virginia’s Supreme Court declined to expand the state’s product liability law to cover claims against branded drugs for harm caused by their generics.
The ruling responded to a 2012 lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals over acute respiratory distress syndrome developed by plaintiff Kimmy McNair after taking a generic of J&J’s Levaquin (levofloxacin) manufactured by Dr. Reddy’s.
The U.S. District Court in Charleston ruled that, under state law, a branded manufacturer is not liable for damages caused by a product it did not produce. On appeal, Richmond, Virginia’s 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case to the West Virginia Supreme Court.
In a 3-2 decision, the Supreme Court agreed with the lower court that state law let Janssen off the hook.