Product liability suit accuses Johnson & Johnson of deadly trick

We have discussed product recalls on this wrongful death blog in the past. Recalling a defective product can be a matter of life and death in many cases. Sure, companies might take a financial hit by identifying a defective product they’ve manufactured, but the finances of the matter cannot come before the safety of American consumers.

A family is trying to make that message clear to a company that is widely seen as a family company: Johnson & Johnson. The huge company makes many products for children, products that parents depend on in order to care for their kids’ health, including Children’s Tylenol. But the family’s product liability suit paints a different picture of the company.

The family has filed a civil suit against Johnson & Johnson and other affiliated business parties in Philadelphia. They allege that the defendants knew of defects in their pain reliever products but failed to make a clear, widespread product recall known to the public, which would have warned parents not to give their children certain types of medicine.

The plaintiffs in this product liability case gave their 2-year-old son Children’s Tylenol in July 2010 to treat a basic illness. But his symptoms didn’t improve. In fact, the family reports that the child began to spit up blood as a result of taking the medicine. It turns out that the drug dosage in the particular product was off and the high dosage damaged the boy’s liver, ultimately killing him.

As part of the family’s wrongful death lawsuit, they reportedly have internal memos from within the Johnson & Johnson company that suggest the company was trying to cover up the potential danger of their pain relievers on store shelves. The company is accused of organizing what the lawsuit calls a “stealth recall,” meaning that rather than making a clear, public statement of a product recall, the company had undercover shoppers go to retail stores and buy the supposedly dangerous items off of the shelves.

Sources don’t indicate whether the plaintiffs want a specific amount in damages for the wrongdoing that they believe was committed and took the life of their son. If they do win their case, no amount they could potentially get would replace what they’ve lost. No parents should have to lose their child to something like the common cold in this country.


Courthouse News Service: “Grieving Parents Blast J&J ‘Stealth Recall,'” Joe Harris, Jan. 4, 2012

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