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The U.S. District Judge presiding over nearly 10,000 DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits has entered a judgment in the amount of $246.1 million for six individual plaintiffs who presented their claims as part of a joint “bellwether” trial late last year, which was designed to help gauge how juries may respond to similar evidence and testimony that will be presented throughout the litigation.
The verdict comes in a case that was part of a series of early trial dates held in the federal court system, each of which raised similar allegations that design problems with metal-on-metal DePuy Pinnacle hip implants caused plaintiffs to suffer catastrophic failure of their hip replacement.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the lawsuits, the cases are centralized before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in the Northern District of Texas as part of a federal multidistrict litigation or MDL. However, if settlements or another resolution is not reached during the coordinated pretrial proceedings, each of the remaining claims may ultimately be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for trial.
Following an original jury award of $247 million returned in November 2017, Judge Kinkeade entered individual judgments late last week in the amount of $48.6 million (PDF) for Karen Kirchner, $43.7 million (PDF) for Hazel Miura, $39.8 million (PDF) for Ramon and Carole Alicia, $39.4 million (PDF) for Uriel and Aviva Barzel, $37.8 million for Michael and Audra Stevens, and $36.8 million (PDF) for Eugene and Yolanda Stevens.
Johnson & Johnson and it’s DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary have indicated that the judgments will be challenged through post-judgment motions and appeals, arguing that they are not subject to personal jurisdiction of Judge Kinkeade’s court and that new trials should be granted.
The jury verdict came after several other bellwether trials that also resulted in 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.