A jury in Dallas, Texas rendered a decision today holding Johnson & Johnson liable to six people for injuries caused by defective Pinnacle artificial hips, in a verdict totaling over $1 billion dollars. The patients suffered serious complications caused by the metal-on-metal hip implants made by DePuy, a division of J&J. Attorneys for the plaintiffs presented evidence that J&J knew about the defects, but marketed them anyway, concealing the risks from doctors and patients.
J&J still faces almost 9,000 additional lawsuits from patients who had the same type of artificial implants. The Pinnacle hip device has a metal-on-metal design—a metal ball attached to the leg bone fits into a metal socket attached to the hip bone. The friction between these two metal surfaces releases cobalt and chromium into the tissues and blood, which can cause severe medical problems, including pain and tissue death, which often requires revision surgery. In some cases, patients suffered through multiple surgeries to try to repair their defective hip implants, and some were left with permanent injuries.
The Pinnacle lawsuits are consolidated for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. Today’s verdict was in the third “bellwether” trial—trials designed to set a benchmark for the settlement value of the thousands of other cases. The first bellwether resulted in a defense verdict, while the second resulted in a $500 million verdict for the plaintiffs. The most recent verdict likely increases the settlement value of the remaining cases. Another bellwether trial is scheduled for September of 2017.
The group of patients argued that J&J knew that Pinnacle hips were defectively designed, and had access to studies showing the dangers of metal-on-metal implants. J&J, they alleged, ignored these dangers, and pushed the products to market, making billions of dollars in the process.
The total verdict awarded today, $1.04 billion, included both compensatory and punitive damages. Jurors in this case started deliberations on Wednesday afternoon and delivered their verdict around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. Lawyers for J&J said they planned to appeal. The company has denied liability—DePuy spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley said in a statement that the Pinnacle hip implant is “backed by a strong record of safety and effectiveness in reducing pain and restoring mobility for patients.”
Nevertheless, the company completely withdrew the product from the market in 2013. Though it had previously recalled the DePuy ASR hip implants in 2010 due to their similarly-faulty metal-on-metal design, and no longer sells any metal-on-metal implants, the company has continued to maintain that the Pinnacle hips are not defective. According to J&J, the product was removed from the market simply as a “realignment” of priorities. The Texas jury apparently did not agree.
Keane Law LLC is actively prosecuting Pinnacle hip implant cases. If you or a loved one was implanted with a Pinnacle hip, you still may have an opportunity to join the lawsuit. Our experienced products liability attorneys can provide a free consultation to see if you qualify to participate.