A federal jury in Texas has reached a $247 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. unit in a bellwether trial over DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant injuries. (A bellwether trial is a case that the court and the parties select to test their arguments, with the goal of moving the overall larger litigation towards resolution.)
This verdict is intended to compensate plaintiffs for past and future medical expenses, as well as their pain and suffering from hip implant failures. As reported by Law360, the jury unanimously found that both J&J and DePuy were liable “for a series of design and manufacturing defects, fraud and deceptive business practices, and found the companies had acted with wanton, reckless or malicious conduct.”
From 2002 to 2012, DePuy manufactured metal-on-metal hip implants sold under the brand name Pinnacle with a metal liner (called the Ultramet metal liner). Numerous patients alleged that these metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants failed, requiring painful and expensive revision surgery. Common symptoms of a failing hip implant include pain in the groin, hip or leg, swelling near the hip joint, or a limp or change in walking ability.
“During the trial, the six plaintiffs told jurors they’d suffered a range of injuries, including severe tissue damage that caused permanent muscle loss, intense pain, loss of hip movement and walking with a permanent limp. They say the Pinnacle product shed microscopic metal ions into their bodies, causing side effects that J&J and DePuy didn’t warn surgeons about and that could have been avoided with a safer design,” noted Law360.
Plaintiffs accused the companies of utilizing cheaper, less safe alternatives to develop the implants that led to a defective product which turned people’s hips into “ticking time bombs.”
The jury awarded $90 million in punitive damages against J&J, and another $78 million in punitive damages against DePuy.
The consolidated cases are Alicea et al. v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. et al., case number 3:15-cv-03489; Barzel v. DePuy et al., case number 3:16-cv-01245; Kirschner v. DePuy et al., case number 3:16-cv-01526; Miura v. DePuy et al., case number 3:13-cv-04119; Stevens v. DePuy et al., case number 3:14-cv-01776; and Stevens v. DePuy et al., case number 3:14-cv-02341, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.