Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $247M for Defective Hip Implants

November 16, 2017
By David Lee

DALLAS (CN) – A Texas federal jury slapped DePuy Orthopaedics and corporate parent Johnson & Johnson with a $247 million verdict Thursday over its Pinnacle artificial hips that injured six, handing the companies their third consecutive costly loss on the implants.

The jury unanimously concluded after a two-month trial that the metal-on-metal hip implants had design and manufacturing defects and that the companies knew about the flaws but failed to warn patients. The six injured New York plaintiffs sued for products liability, deceptive business practices and fraud in 2015.

The jury awarded Ramon Alicea, Uriel Barzel, Karen Kirschner, Hazel Miura, Eugene Stevens Jr. and Michael Stevens approximately $79 million in actual damages and $168 million in punitive damages.

The plaintiffs alleged they were forced to have their implants removed after suffering from bone erosion, tissue death and poisoning from metal debris, among other things. Their case is among the 8,000 that were assigned to U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas under multidistrict litigation.

DePuy stopped selling Pinnacle implants in 2013, three years after it recalled similar metal-on-metal ASR hip implants after reports of high failure rates.

Thursday’s verdict comes on the heels of two other bellwether losses for Johnson & Johnson and DePuy. The companies were slapped with a $1 billion Pinnacle verdict in December 2016.

The Dallas federal jury in that case also concluded the implants were defective and that the companies failed to warn of the risks, awarding $32 million in actual damages and over $1 billion in punitive damages to six California plaintiffs. Judge Kinkeade reduced the jury award to $500 million one month later, citing due process concerns with a massive punitive damages award that went beyond a “single-digit multiplier” of actual damages.

In March 2016, a separate Dallas federal jury awarded five Texas plaintiffs $498 million.

In the first Pinnacle case to go to trial in October 2014, a Dallas federal jury cleared the companies of products liability, negligence and Montana Consumer Protection Act allegations and awarded a female plaintiff nothing.

Houston attorney W. Mark Lanier represents the plaintiffs in all three victories against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy.

“We thank this jury for sending a very strong message about the responsibility the defendants have to take care of their consumers,” Lanier said in a statement after Thursday’s verdict.

DePuy spokesperson Stella Meirelles said in a statement after the verdict the company will “immediately begin the appeal process and remain committed to the long-term defense” against the lawsuits. She said the implants were supported by a strong record of clinical data showing their effectiveness.

Defense attorney John H. Beisner, with Skadden Arps in Washington, D.C., said in a statement after the verdict that the trial “was a disservice to everyone involved because the verdict will do nothing to advance the ultimate resolution of this six-year-old litigation.”

From Courthouse News.

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Judge Slices $1 Billion Hip Implant Award in Half

January 5, 2017
By David Lee

DALLAS (CN) — A Texas federal judge Tuesday sliced in half a $1 billion jury award against DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson for their metal-on-metal hip implants, citing concerns about due process in awarding such massive punitive damages.

U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade issued final judgment in cases brought by six California plaintiffs who claimed the Pinnacle artificial hips would wear, shed and poison them. A jury in December awarded the plaintiffs $32 million in actual damages and more than $1 billion in punitive damages, concluding the implants were defectively designed and that the defendants failed to warn customers of the risks. Johnson & Johnson is DePuy’s corporate parent.

Kinkeade left undisturbed the jury award of actual damages of up to $6 million to each defendant, but wiped out approximately $500 million in punitive damages.

“(C)onstitutional considerations limit the amount a plaintiff may recover in punitive damages,” the identical, 3-page final judgments state.

Kinkeade cited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408, 425 (2003): “(F)ew awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages, to a significant degree, will satisfy due process. … Single-digit multipliers are more likely to comport with due process, while still achieving the State’s goals of deterrence and retribution.”

Kinkeade’s reduction means the plaintiffs will be awarded punitive damages that are less than 10 times the actual damages awarded.

Defense attorney John H. Beisner, with Skadden Arps in Washington, D.C., said Johnson & Johnson will “continue to fully defend” against the claims.

“Now that judgment has been entered in these cases, we can move forward in seeking appellate review of the legal errors with the trial,” he said in a statement.

The defendants still face several thousand Pinnacle lawsuits that have been consolidated in Dallas for multidistrict litigation.

The jury’s $1 billion verdict dwarfed all previous Pinnacle verdicts. Ten months ago, a federal jury awarded $498 million to five Texans.

The first Pinnacle case to go to trial was in October 2014, when a federal jury ruled for of the defendants and the plaintiffs took nothing.

From Courthouse News.