Ruling that punitive damages cannot be more than 10 times a plaintiff’s actual damages, US District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Texas chopped in half a Dec. 1 verdict of $1.04 billion against Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit.
Both sides said they would appeal. The plaintiffs’ attorneys include W. Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm, Richard Arsenault of Neblett Beard & Arsenault, Jayne Conroy of Simmons Hanly Conroy LLC and Khaldoun Baghdadi of Walkup Melodia Kelly & Schoenberger
The case is one of 8,707 actions consolidated before Judge James Edgar Kinkeade in MDL 2244, In re DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 3:11-md-02244, in the Northern District of Texas in Dallas.
Jurors found that J&J and DePuy had negligently designed the hip implant, failed to warn surgeons about dangerous conditions related to the implant, and concealed its risks. J&J stopped selling the devices in 2013 after the FDA issued a safety communication about artificial-hip danges.
Separately, DuPuy is facing 1,458 product liability actions consolidated before US District Judge Jeffrey J. Helmick in MDL 2197, In re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation in Toledo, Ohio.
J&J prevailed in the first Pinnacle hip case to go to trial in October 2014 after a jury rejected a Montana woman’s claims that the devices were defective and gave her metal poisoning. In March 2016, a Dallas jury ordered J&J to pay $502 million to a group of five patients who accused the company of hiding defects in the hips. A judge cut that verdict in July to about $150 million.
The jury had awarded $168 million in punitive damages to each of six plaintiffs. In halving the $1 billion total verdict, the judge cited the US Supreme Court ruling in State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408, 425 (2003), saying that “[F]ew awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages, to a significant degree, will satisfy due process.”
The ruling came in six individual judgments:
The judge did not disturb $4 million and $6 million in compensatory damage awards.