A Texas federal Court jury found against Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. unit and awarded more than $1.04 billion in the six-plaintiff bellwether trial that has been going on for two months. The case involved the metal-shedding artificial hips that are part of the Pinnacle line. Jurors deliberated for less than a day and found J&J and DePuy had negligently designed the hip implant, had failed to warn surgeons about dangerous conditions related to the implant and had concealed the implant’s risks.
The verdict includes between $4 million and $6 million per plaintiff in damages for physical injuries and pain and suffering, and $1 million each to four spouses for loss of consortium. More than $504 million was awarded against DePuy and J&J in punitive damages. It’s very significant that the jury found the companies had acted with “malice” or “fraud.”
DePuy and J&J were each found liable for negligent design defect, negligent failure to warn, strict liability failure to warn, failure to recall, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. J&J was also found liable for aiding and abetting DePuy in each of the seven causes of action. The jury found that J&J did not conspire with DePuy on the design defect claim, but did find J&J liable for conspiracy on the other six claims.
The case involved six Plaintiffs from California, who each had to undergo “revision surgeries” after being fitted with metal-on-metal artificial hip systems made by DePuy, known as the Pinnacle hip system’s Ultamet variety. Friction between the device’s metal socket and metal ball head rubs away billions of microscopic particles with every step, polluting the bloodstream and surrounding tissue with “wear debris” over time. The Plaintiffs proved that J&J knew the device was riskier than others available, but still marketed it aggressively, even paying “kickbacks” to a number of surgeons.
In closing arguments, Mark Lanier, one of the Plaintiffs’ lawyers, asked the jury to impose a stiff enough penalty on Johnson & Johnson that the company would change its behavior with future medical devices. He suggested that a $500 million punitive award would hardly be felt by a company worth $72 billion. The proof at trial revealed some very bad conduct and the jurors recognized how bad it was.
The next bellwether trial is set to begin in September 2017, with the parties preparing for 10 plaintiffs all from New York. J&J has objected to proceeding with any more trials in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) until the appeals from the second bellwether trial have been resolved. The company also contended the Texas federal court lacks jurisdiction over out-of-state residents.
The patients are represented by W. Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm; Richard Arsenault of Neblett Beard & Arsenault, Jayne Conroy of Simmons Hanly Conroy; and Khaldoun Baghdadi of Walkup Melodia Kelly & Schoenberger, among others. The lawyers for the Plaintiffs have done a tremendous job against a company that appears to have lost its moral compass. The MDL is In re: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.