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Court issues billion-dollar hip implant verdict against Johnson & Johnson

by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter | December 05, 2016
Business Affairs Medical Devices
A federal jury in Dallas has slammed Johnson & Johnson with a $1 billion decision in a lawsuit over defective metal-on-metal hip implants.

The suit was filed on behalf of six people who got the devices and went on to develop serious medical complications, according to a statement by lead attorney Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm in Houston

The hip replacements were produced by the company's DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary.

"Once again, a jury has listened to the testimony of both sides, and returned a verdict affirming what we've known all along: a responsible company would settle these cases and take care of their injured consumers, rather than forcing them through expensive and vexatious litigation just to delay justice," said Lanier. "This jury spoke loud and clear, and I hope J&J will finally listen."

This is the third test case for the implants. One earlier led to a $500 million verdict. In 2014 the two firms were cleared in the initial case over the devices.

The Pinnacle implant “was designed with a metal, rather than a safer ceramic or polyethylene, socket,” according to the statement.

When then two metal surfaces rubbed against each other, the suit claimed, corrosion took place and this, in turn, led to bone loss and and tissue erosion.

“Each of the six plaintiffs in the trial had to undergo revision surgeries to replace the implants and repair the damage,” according to the statement.

This is the third “bellwether trial” concerning the implants. It involved California patients who all had injuries that were “attributed to design flaws,” according to Business Insider.

The next bellwether trial concerns 10 patients and has been slated for September 2017 in Dallas, according to The Lanier Law Firm.

Lanier said the verdict was "a message loud and clear" that J&J has "a really nasty part of their business they need to clean up," according to Reuters.

According to the wire service, a plaintiffs' offer to settle for $1.8 million before trial had been refused by the company.

Johnson & Johnson's attorneys were critical of the decision, which will be appealed. “Today’s verdict provides no guidance on the merits of the overall Pinnacle litigation because the court’s rulings precluded a fair presentation to the jury,” said Johnson & Johnson attorney John Beisner, who added that an appeals court will be asked to put off further trials over “implant defects.”

Although Johnson & Johnson and DePuy deny wrongdoing, they now face almost 8,400 metal-on-metal implant suits. These are now “consolidated” in federal court in Texas.

Test cases such as this one help to establish the price of the remaining claims.

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