Final Judgment Could Exceed $1 Billion in HIV Drug False Claims Case Against Janssen

DALLAS — Last week’s $150 million jury verdict in a whistleblower case against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Products, LP could grow to more than $1 billion in damages and civil penalties, according to the lead trial attorneys in the case. 


“This jury verdict could result in one of the largest civil judgments ever obtained under the False Claims Act,” says Josh Russ of Dallas-based trial boutique Reese Marketos LLP. “With mandatory trebling of damages and the imposition of civil penalties between $5,500 and $11,000 for each of the nearly 160,000 false claims found by the jury, we expect that the judgment will only grow in scale as the Court makes a final determination of the award.” 


Reese Marketos was retained to try the case in 2022 by co-counsel Berger Montague PC of Philadelphia. 


“The Berger team did exceptional work over many years to assemble fact and expert testimony and prevail on Janssen’s summary judgment motion,” says the firm’s name partner, Pete Marketos. “Then it came time for a jury trial—and that is where our firm is second to none.”  


The claims against Janssen were brought by two former sales representatives alleging violations of the federal False Claims Act and numerous analogous state statutes resulting from the company’s off-label promotion of the HIV drugsPrezista and Intelence.  


Janssen hired two large law firms—Troutman Pepper and Skadden Arps—to defend against the False Claims Act suit. Throughout the litigation, Janssen denied every allegation and adopted a “kitchen sink” defense, which continued through closing argument before the jury. But Marketos pointed to the preparation and courtroom skill of the entire RM trial team—which included Marketos, Russ, Andrew Wirmani, Adam Sanderson, and Whitney Wendel—as an enormous advantage. 


Evidence submitted during the six-week trial demonstrated that Janssen violated the law by causing the submission of drug claims to Medicare, ADAP, and Medicaid for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration, and for uses not medically reasonable and necessary. Testimony by former Janssen employees—and the cross-examination of its two senior executives—confirmed that corporate management orchestrated the plan to increase sales of the two drugs by promoting their use beyond their labels and misleading doctors about the potential side effects. 


“This verdict sends a powerful message to any corporation that attempts to enrich its bottom line by skirting regulatory agency standards,” says Wirmani. “Even without the direct involvement of the government, this result is a testament to the persistence of the entire legal team and these whistleblowers to hold a giant corporation accountable.” 


The verdict is the second False Claims Act case tried to a significant jury verdict by Reese Marketos attorneys in the past three years.  


The case is U.S. et al., ex rel. Jessica Penelow et al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al., No.3:12-cv-07758, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. 


About Reese Marketos 

Reese Marketos LLP represents clients in high-stakes disputes involving False Claims Act litigation, complex commercial litigation, commercial fraud, patent litigation, antitrust, and regulatory litigation. 


Media Contact: 

Barry Pound 



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