Patient Safety News: $1B verdict for plaintiffs harmed by hip implants

Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit have been ordered to pay more than $1 billion, mostly in punitive damages, to plaintiffs who claimed they were harmed by Pinnacle hip implants.

The staggering verdict was handed down by a federal jury in Dallas on Dec. 1. Jurors sided with lawyers for the plaintiffs, who presented evidence that the metal-on-metal hip implants were defectively designed, and that the companies failed to warn consumers about risks.

The total verdict included $32 million in compensatory damages for six plaintiffs from California, and $1.041 billion in punitive damages.

Johnson & Johnson and DePuy face roughly 8,400 lawsuits over the hip implant devices. The trial that ended with the $1 billion verdict was the second “test case” for the litigation, which has been consolidated in Texas federal court. The outcome of test cases helps determine the value of remaining claims.

Berman & Simmons, the leading firm in Maine for people who have been harmed by dangerous drugs and medical devices, currently represents multiple clients who have been injured by metal on metal hip implants.

“The verdict in Dallas is a huge victory for all consumers who deserve safe, effective, and appropriately marketed medical devices,” said attorney Susan Faunce of Berman & Simmons, who leads the firm’s efforts in this practice area. “The message to device manufacturers is clear: If you fail to protect patient safety, if you mislead consumers, if you don’t tell the truth, then you are going to pay the price.”

Johnson & Johnson and DePuy stopped selling Pinnacle devices in 2013, because of new regulations imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Reuters reported. The companies also paid $2.5 billion to settle more than 7,000 lawsuits related to harm done by the ASR metal-on-metal hip devices.

Click on the links for coverage of the $1B verdict