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J&J hip implant judgement slashed in half by judge

by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter | January 06, 2017
Business Affairs
The $1 billion December jury award over bad hip implants against Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics has been slashed to $500 million by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas.

He stated in his final report that “although the jury awarded $84,000,000 in punitive damages from Defendant DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., and $84,000,000 in punitive damages from Defendant Johnson & Johnson, constitutional considerations limit the amount a plaintiff may recover in punitive damages."

The legal context, he observed, concerned a prior 2003 case (State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408, 42), which held that “[f]ew awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages, to a significant degree, will satisfy due process...“

Kinkeade noted that in this ruling, “single-digit multipliers are more likely to comport with due process, while still achieving the State’s goals of deterrence and retribution.”

As a result he followed this consideration and reduced the punitive damages.

For plaintiff Marvin Andrews punitive damages were cut from $84 million against J&J and $84 million against DePuy to “$37,064,922.66 against Defendant DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., and $37,064,922.66 against Defendant Johnson & Johnson.”

The court also rendered a judgment for Elizabeth Andrews “for punitive damages in the amount of $125,000 against Defendant DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., and $125,000 against Defendant Johnson & Johnson.”

The decision will lower the awards for all plaintiffs who are in California, in similar fashion.

The implants led to tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries they attributed to design flaws, according to Reuters.

The metal-on-metal devices were touted as lasting longer than ones made with ceramics or plastic. Sales were halted in 2013, and at that time J&J and DePuy settled over 7,000 lawsuits for about $2.5 billion.

In December 2016, a federal jury in Dallas returned the $1 billion decision.

The suit was filed on behalf of six people who got the devices, according to lead plaintiff attorney Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm in Houston

"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 at the time. "This jury spoke loud and clear, and I hope J&J will finally listen."

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