Dr. Joel S. Lippman, former vice president at two Johnson & Johnson alleges in a lawsuit that he was fired for seeking recalls on numerous faulty products that include the Ortho Evra birth control patch with at least 1,000 product liability suits.
In Lippman’s civil complaint, he alleges he was unlawfully let go on May 15, after 15 years of employment because he repeatedly complained about product safety problems while urging several be recalled or not launched. “He feels wronged,” said Lippman’s attorney. “He was fired at the peak of his career for doing his job.”
The suit filed in N.J. Superior Court in Middlesex County on November 13, seeks lost past and future salary and lost bonuses, pension c contribution amongst other benefits. The suit alleges Lippman’s problems with J&J began when he complained about inadequate safety data on a hormonal menopausal product called Ortho-Prefest and about serious health concerns regarding the Ortho Evra patch, “that releases dangerously high amounts of estrogen in patients.”
In September, the Food and Drug Administration began requiring J&J to add a warning label to the package insert advising the risk of dangerous blog clots in the legs and lungs might be higher for women on the patch instead of birth-control pills. At this time it is uncertain if Ortho-Prefest was ever sold, but J&J disregarded Lippman’s concerns and launched the product and then transferred him.
According to the lawsuit, over the next few years, Lippman complained about safety concerns with five other devices including an applicator used in endoscopic procedures that “oozed chromium during use” and ProCeed a surgical mesh for hernia repair that the FDA ordered the company to recall.
As of October 1st, J&J has reported approximately 1,000 claimants that have filed lawsuits or maid claims alleging Ortho Evra caused injuries.
Some women using Ortho Evra, including women in their 20s, have died of blood clots. Attorneys who specialize in medical product liability suits are seeking more plaintiffs through Internet sites, so more suits are likely.
Attorney Ellen Relkin, who is on committees of plaintiffs lawyers overseeing both federal Ortho Evra lawsuits and those filed in New Jersey, said news of Lippman’s lawsuit will have some impact on the number of product liability suits, particularly among women who believe Ortho Evra injured them but hadn’t yet sued.
She said documents and testimony from Lippman’s case also could come into play in the product liability lawsuits. “We have millions of documents that the lawyers are reviewing that we’ve received from Johnson & Johnson (in Ortho Evra lawsuits) and we’ll take a closer look at anything involving him,” Relkin said.