Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $247M for Defective Hip Implants

DALLAS (CN) – A Texas federal jury slapped DePuy Orthopaedics and corporate parent Johnson & Johnson with a $247 million verdict Thursday over its Pinnacle artificial hips that injured six, handing the companies their third consecutive costly loss on the implants.

The jury unanimously concluded after a two-month trial that the metal-on-metal hip implants had design and manufacturing defects and that the companies knew about the flaws but failed to warn patients. The six injured New York plaintiffs sued for products liability, deceptive business practices and fraud in 2015.

The jury awarded Ramon Alicea, Uriel Barzel, Karen Kirschner, Hazel Miura, Eugene Stevens Jr. and Michael Stevens approximately $79 million in actual damages and $168 million in punitive damages.

The plaintiffs alleged they were forced to have their implants removed after suffering from bone erosion, tissue death and poisoning from metal debris, among other things. Their case is among the 8,000 that were assigned to U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas under multidistrict litigation.

DePuy stopped selling Pinnacle implants in 2013, three years after it recalled similar metal-on-metal ASR hip implants after reports of high failure rates.

Thursday’s verdict comes on the heels of two other bellwether losses for Johnson & Johnson and DePuy. The companies were slapped with a $1 billion Pinnacle verdict in December 2016.

The Dallas federal jury in that case also concluded the implants were defective and that the companies failed to warn of the risks, awarding $32 million in actual damages and over $1 billion in punitive damages to six California plaintiffs. Judge Kinkeade reduced the jury award to $500 million one month later, citing due process concerns with a massive punitive damages award that went beyond a “single-digit multiplier” of actual damages.

In March 2016, a separate Dallas federal jury awarded five Texas plaintiffs $498 million.

In the first Pinnacle case to go to trial in October 2014, a Dallas federal jury cleared the companies of products liability, negligence and Montana Consumer Protection Act allegations and awarded a female plaintiff nothing.

Houston attorney W. Mark Lanier represents the plaintiffs in all three victories against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy.

“We thank this jury for sending a very strong message about the responsibility the defendants have to take care of their consumers,” Lanier said in a statement after Thursday’s verdict.

DePuy spokesperson Stella Meirelles said in a statement after the verdict the company will “immediately begin the appeal process and remain committed to the long-term defense” against the lawsuits. She said the implants were supported by a strong record of clinical data showing their effectiveness.

Defense attorney John H. Beisner, with Skadden Arps in Washington, D.C., said in a statement after the verdict that the trial “was a disservice to everyone involved because the verdict will do nothing to advance the ultimate resolution of this six-year-old litigation.”

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