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Over $1 Billion Penalty Verdict on Hip Implants Slapped Against J&J


Over $1 Billion Penalty Verdict on Hip Implants Slapped Against J&J
Six plaintiffs who said they were injured by Pinnacle hip implants were granted to be paid more than $1 billion by Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit by a federal jury in Dallas.
The companies failed to warn consumers about the risks and the metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants were defectively designed, the jurors found.
J&J was committed to defending itself and DePuy from further litigation over the Pinnacle devices and would immediately appeal the verdict, the company, which faces more than 8,000 lawsuits over the hip implants, said in a statement.
Tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries they attributed to design flaws were experienced by California residents who were implanted with the hip devices and they are the six plaintiffs who were awarded more than $1 billion. The devices were marketed as lasting longer than devices that include ceramic or plastic materials by the companies, the plaintiffs claimed.
Any wrongdoing stemming from the development and marketing of the devices were denied by both the companies.
The total verdict of $1.041 billion included $32 million in compensatory damages, according to plaintiff's lawyer Mark Lanier. The rest were punitive damages.
Courts often scale back verdicts of such size. Citing a Texas state law that limits punitive damages awards, a $500 million verdict in an earlier Pinnacle implant case was reduced to $151 million by the judge presiding over this case, U.S. District Judge Edward Kinkeade, in July.
8,400 lawsuits over the devices, which have been consolidated in Texas federal court, are being faced by J&J and DePuy. The value of the remaining claims would be helped to be gauged by the outcomes of test cases that have been selected for trial.
While the second case produced the earlier $500 million verdict, the latest verdict came in the third test case. J&J and DePuy were cleared of liability in the first test case in 2014.
The verdict was "a message loud and clear" that J&J has "a really nasty part of their business they need to clean up," Lanier said.
Lanier said that a $1.8 million settlement offer from the plaintiffs before trial was rejected by the company.
Kinkeade’s decision to cut the award has been appealed by the plaintiffs in the second test case. Johnson & Johnson and DePuy have also appealed the jury verdict in the case.
J&J criticized the trial judge over certain rulings it claimed help the plaintiffs in its statement.
“Today’s verdict provides no guidance on the merits of the overall Pinnacle litigation because the court’s rulings precluded a fair presentation to the jury,” said John Beisner, J&J’s attorney.
Any additional trials over the implant defects would be appealed to be postponed by the company, he said.
In 2013, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration strengthened its artificial hip regulations, DePuy ceased selling the metal-on-metal Pinnacle devices.
In order to settle more than 7,000 lawsuits over its ASR metal-on-metal hip devices, J&J and DePuy also paid $2.5 billion that year. Due to their high failure rates, the ASR devices were recalled in 2010.
J&J shares fell 38 cents to $111 in after-hours trading. They had closed up 8 cents during the day