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Johnson & Johnson has been hammered with another massive verdict in a lawsuit over the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant, with a jury awarding a group of six plaintiffs $247 million, after determining that the manufacturer sold a defective implant and failed to adequately warn patients and the medical community.
The verdict is the latest of a series of DePuy Pinnacle hip bellwether cases that have been set for early trial dates, to help parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout more than 9,000 product liability lawsuits filed by individuals nationwide. Each of the claims allege that plaintiffs experienced catastrophic failure of their hip replacement, due to problems with the metal-on-metal Pinncale design.
In a trial that ended on Thursday, the jury found that Johnson & Johnson and it’s DePuy Orthopedics subsidiary knew about defects with the DePuy Pinnacle hip, yet withheld information and warnings. To compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries, the jury awarded a combined total of $79 million, with an additional $168 million in punitive damages added to punish the manufacturers for their reckless disregard for the safety of consumers.
The case is part of the federal multidistrict litigation that has been established for lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson over the DePuy Pinnacle hip, which have been centralized for coordinated management before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in the Northern District of Texas.
In prior bellwether trials, juries have repeatedly ordered the manufacturer to pay massive damage awards, including a $1 billion verdict in December 2016, and a $500 million verdict in March 2016. While the first award was later reduced to about $500 million, and the second award was reduced to $151 million under Texas state damage caps, the staggering verdicts provide a clear signal about how juries may respond if thousands of other cases are set for trial in courts nationwide.
While additional bellwether trials have been scheduled before Judge Kinkeade, Johnson & Johnson is pushing the Court to start remanding thousands of cases back to individual U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates, indicating that it has no intention of negotiating hip replacement settlements for individuals who have experienced problems with DePuy Pinnacle implants.
Flooding the federal court system with a need to schedule more than 9,000 individual trials could be daunting, as there are typically under 12,000 completed trials in all U.S. District Courts each year; including both civil and criminal trials.
Johnson & Johnson previously agreed to pay more than $2.4 billion to settle DePuy ASR metal hip lawsuits, which was a recalled hip system based on the design of the DePuy Pinnacle metal hip. However, the manufacturer has refused to settle DePuy Pinnacle cases.