A jury in a Texas Federal Court returned a $497.6 million verdict on March 17 against Johnson & Johnson in a case involving the Pinnacle hip replacement. This was the second bellwether trial in the MDL over the defective Pinnacle hip prosthetics manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit. This was a major win for the Plaintiffs in the MDL. The consolidated claims of five patients alleging problems from the devices were tried together. After a two-month trial and five days of deliberations, the Dallas jury found in favor of all five plaintiffs. The verdict included $360 million in punitive damages.
The jury found for the Plaintiffs on their failure-to-warn and design defect claims, holding both J&J and DePuy liable. About $240 million of the punitive damages were assessed directly against J&J with DePuy being liable for the other $120 million. The $140 million in compensatory damages will be divided among the Plaintiffs based on the extent of their individual injuries. This jury was very careful and deliberate in the way they went about working through the evidence in this case.
Navan Ward, a lawyer in our firm’s Mass Torts Section, served as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC). He worked on the team helping to prepare the case for trial. The PSC trial team included Mark Lanier (lead lawyer), Larry Boyd, Justin Presnal, Jayne Conroy and Richard Arsenault. The jurors heard and saw convincing evidence of the disturbing company culture at Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopedics. Egregious corporate practices led to the production of faulty metal-on-metal hip implants that have caused unnecessary harm to thousands of people. Mark and the members of the litigation team did a tremendous job in this case.
J&J and DePuy Orthopedics are currently facing more than 8,000 additional cases with Plaintiffs claiming the identical or similar damages by the Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip devices. A large percentage of these claimants have undergone revision surgery as a result of the damage caused. More than 1,300 adverse event complaints have been made to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the devices – among the roughly 150,000 such devices sold – and J&J knew that patients implanted with those devices wound up with unsafe levels of cobalt and chromium in their bloodstream.
This image of this so-called “family company” was shredded by evidence that J&J is facing significant legal issues as a result of the damages caused by its transvaginal mesh devices manufactured by Ethicon, a J&J subsidiary, also under Plouhar’s oversight. It is unclear at this time how this verdict will affect the Pinnacle cases moving forward. Hopefully, the verdict will cause J&J to be more realistic about the damage their actions and this device has caused, and the company will begin to be more receptive to the potential for a global settlement. However, at this point, Johnson & Johnson is holding firm in their resolve to appeal the Pinnacle verdict.
Navan has worked tirelessly for clients that our firm directly represents, as well as for victims all across the country, in his role on the PSC. Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section currently represent several hundred clients who have suffered the deleterious effects of the DePuy Pinnacle device. If you need more information about this case, or the litigation generally, contact Navan at 800-898-2034 or by email at Navan.Ward@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, and Law360.com
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