Judge accused of 'partisan glee' after $8B verdict says high-five allegations were fabricated
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A Philadelphia judge accused of showing “partisan glee” and high-fiving jurors after they awarded $8 billion in a Risperdal case denied the allegation Wednesday and focused on the lawyers who made the accusation.
Judge Kenneth Powell said the high-five allegation was “fabricated,” although he did shake hands with jurors after the verdict and did agree to pose for a picture, report Law360 and the Legal Intelligencer.
Powell said he shook jurors’ hands as he handed out certificates and thanked them for their service, according to the Law360 story. “Everything I did was virtually ritualistic, and nothing was untoward,” he said.
Powell denied pro-plaintiff bias in his court rulings and said the outcome was not his doing. Instead, he said, there was bad lawyering by the defense lawyers.
“When you have no one to blame, and you won’t blame yourselves, you blame the judge,” he said. “I’m sorry, but you have the wrong guy here.”
Lawyers with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler had accused Powell of high-fiving jurors in a motion asking Powell to recuse himself from ruling on post-trial motions.
The lawyers represent Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the suit. The plaintiff, Nicholas Murray, had contended that his childhood use of the drug Risperdal caused him to grow breasts. Jurors awarded $8 billion in punitive damages earlier this month.
Murray was previously awarded $1.75 million in compensatory damages, which was reduced to $680,000 under a state cap.