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For jurors, child’s Motrin case may have a lasting impact

Jurors deliberated for 14 hours before ordering health care giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $63 million to the family of Samantha Reckis, a ­Plymouth girl who suffered life-threatening injuries when she had an allergic reaction to the medicine Children’s Motrin.

But the trial may weigh on them forever.

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“It was very emotional, and it’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life,” said Tanya Porter, 39, of Brockton, who served on the jury in ­Plymouth Superior Court. ­“Every time I talk about it I get choked up.”

The Reckis family was awarded the large sum Wednesday, $50 million specifically for 16-year-old ­Samantha, who was 7 when she suffered a serious skin ­reaction to the painkiller. Now legally blind, she lost much of her skin and has endured dozens of surgeries.

Jurors awarded Reckis’s parents each $6.5 million. The award is pending approval by a trial judge.

The decision was not unanimous, Porter and another ­juror, Kathleen Moran, 52, of Hanover, said Friday. According to the verdict form, at least 10 of 12 jurors had to agree that Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary, McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, were negligent and at fault on each count.

Moran said that one juror, from the moment the group entered the jury chambers, was adamant that the company was not at fault. She said a number of other jurors were undecided before at least 10 of them agreed on the decision.

Moran said that the group reached a point at which nine jurors agreed on the verdict while two were opposed, and one man was undecided. She said the jurors sat in silence for two hours while the man thought over his decision, before joining the majority.

After hours of jostling and voting, Moran said, jurors ­debated how to compensate the Reckis family. The eventual amount was settled on after each juror anonymously wrote figures on pieces of paper and an average was calculated for both of the parents’ and ­Samantha’s awards.

“We kind of just looked at everything, everything that had happened to her; it was very hard,” Porter said. “You can’t really put a price on a child’s life.”

Moran said she felt a need to order Johnson & Johnson to pay a large sum that could help compensate the Reckis family for their struggle.

“My feeling was, they’re a Fortune 50 company; this is chicken feed to them,” Moran said.

Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at zachary.sampson
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