Another week, another jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson and its hip implant products. This time, a federal jury in Dallas hit the company with a verdict for $1 billion in damages. The verdict is the second in a long line of potential lawsuits pertaining to the company’s metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants. According to the verdict, not only were the implants defective and injuring consumers, Johnson & Johnson, along with its DePuy Orthopaedics unit, knew of the defect yet continued to sell the product. On top of this, they also failed to take any reasonable steps to warn consumers about the known risks.
The plaintiffs in this particular case were all California residents. Each had received a Pinnacle hip implant and, as a result of the implant’s flawed design, had experienced tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries. The plaintiffs further argued that they opted for the unique metal-on-metal design of the Pinnacle implant as the company went out of their way in promoting its superior durability over traditional implants made from ceramic or plastic. The jury agreed, issues the $1 billion verdict, of which $32 million are earmarked for compensatory damages and the remainder going towards punitive damages.
More suits in the works
This is the second verdict coming from a long line of related lawsuits. According to one report, Johnson & Johnson are currently facing over 8,400 lawsuits. The actions have been consolidated in Texas federal court, with various claims being selected and tried as test cases. Attorneys are then using their outcomes to help gage the value of future claims and to plan their litigation strategy. Just last July the first of these cases was tried and came back with a $500 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics. However, the judge reduced this verdict to $151 million, citing a Texas state law that allegedly limits punitive damages. Whether the same will happen to the current $1 billion verdict is yet to be seen.
Even though the company stopped selling the Pinnacle implants in 2013 following an order by the US Food and Drug Administration, who argued that the implants failed to satisfy its regulations on artificial hips, Johnson & Johnson, continues to deny any wrongdoing. The company has also stated their intention to appeal the verdict.
Different hip, same problems
The lawsuits against the Pinnacle implants are just the latest chapter in a series of legal actions against Johnson & Johnson that stretches back to 2010. Then it was the DePuy Orthopedics produced SAR XL Acetabular System and the SR Hip Resurfacing System. Like the Pinnacle implant, both were cited for a high rate of failures and, as a result, where recalled and taken off the market. Although not a hip implant, the devices replaced the acetabulum bone, which is a typical part of a hip implant surgery.
According to some reports, the devices had a failure rate of 1 in 12 – way more than double the accepted industry standard. Here to the US Food and Drug Administration got involved, letting the company know of the complaints and their recommendation for a recall – a full two years before the company acted on this recommendation. Reports also note that the Administration warned DePuy about the sale of device for ‘unapproved use’.
Court records show that Johnson & Johnson have reportedly paid over $2.5 billion to settle over 7,000 lawsuits pertaining to the SAR XL Acetabular System and the SR Hip Resurfacing System.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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