Five plaintiffs have won a $502 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in a bellwether trial concerning its DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. The jury verdict for $142 million compensatory and $360 million punitive damages was reached following 37 days of testimony, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Division.
The trial, which consolidated cases involving five separate plaintiffs who are residents of Texas, began Jan. 8, 2016. The lawsuits, including those of more than 7,000 plaintiffs nationwide in the multidistrict litigation (MDL), claim that the market-leading DePuy implants were defective and caused metal debris to enter into patients’ bloodstreams, causing severe injuries and sometimes leading to revision surgery.
Millions of dollars in bribes
“The evidence in the testimony against J&J has been ground breaking, particularly in relation to what, in effect, amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to orthopedic surgeons to use and recommend this product,” said Jayne Conroy, a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy and co-counsel for the plaintiffs as a member of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for the DePuy Pinnacle MDL.
According to Conroy, plaintiffs’ attorneys also discovered several instances in which physicians lied in medical clinical testing of the devices and forged consent forms for patients who were using the product to lie about the results the patients experienced with the product.
“So, apart from the DePuy Pinnacle implant being a bad device to begin with, the deeper story has a much more evil component to it due to the manipulation of science to sell the product,” Conroy added.
The five cases that were decided today are: Aoki v. DePuy Orthopedics, et al., No. 3:13-cv-01071-K; Christopher v. DePuy Orthopedics, et al., No. 3:14-cv-01994-K; Greer v. DePuy Orthopedics, et al., No. 3:12-cv-01672-K; Klusmann v. DePuy Orthopedics, et al., No. 3:11-cv-02800-K; and Peterson v. DePuy Orthopedics, et al., No. 3:11-cv-01941-K.
The trial outcome is expected to be a significant factor in consideration for a possible settlement program to address the complaints of the remaining plaintiffs with cases involving DePuy Pinnacle, consolidated in the Northern District of Texas and overseen by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade. (DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. Pinnacle Hip Implant Product Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2244).
The DePuy Pinnacle hip implants have not been recalled. The DePuy Pinnacle implant design predates J&J’s Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) metal-on-metal hip device that in 2013 was the focus of a $4 billion settlement with patients who experienced complications with the devices.