America's Most Admired Lawbreaker: Chapter 8, "Firing Blanks, Hunting for Smoking Guns"
A Weak First Case
On December 14, 2006, Stephen Sheller filed his first case against Johnson & Johnson. The client was a New Jersey boy who had taken Risperdal beginning in 2001. When he had met the boy and his mother, Sheller thought the case would be about diabetes and weight gain. But then she and her son became traumatized by his growing breasts, and in August 2004, he had radical surgery to remove them.
Still, the suit focused on diabetes, and the complaint Sheller wrote was a hodgepodge of weak claims, in large part because the boy had also taken the Risperdal competitor drug Seroquel. Its manufacturer, AstraZeneca, was also named as a defendant, as was the boy’s doctor, who was accused of malpractice.
The complaint claimed that Risperdal was the sole bad actor when it came to the boy’s breasts. Yet even in late 2006 Sheller knew so little that the charges he drafted did nothing more than show off that he had learned some new medical terms. There was nothing—no studies cited, no data—suggesting he had any proof that the drug actually caused gynecomastia, much less proof that Johnson & Johnson knew about a link and failed to warn doctors.
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To read Chapter 8 in its entirety and view the accompanying materials online, visit The Huffington Post: Highline website: http://huff.to/1Nr8V6C.