A federal jury in Dallas on Dec. 1 returned a $1.04 billion verdict against Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit, in favor of six California plaintiffs who said they were injured by Pinnacle hip implants.
The jurors found that the metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants were defectively designed and that the companies failed to warn consumers about the risks. DePuy sold 150,000 Pinnacle devices.
The case is one of 8,661 actions consolidated before US District 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.
1,400 product liability actions
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.
The billion-dollar verdict came in a two-month bellwether trial in the MDL the ended on Nov. 30. Another bellwether trial is currently underway. The patients are represented by 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 plaintiffs were implanted with the hip devices and experienced tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries they attributed to design flaws. Plaintiffs claimed the companies promoted the devices as lasting longer than devices that include ceramic or plastic materials.
The initial complaint Marvin and Elizabeth Andrews v. Depuy Orthopaedics, Inc., civil action no. 3:15-cv-3484, was filed on Oct. 27, 2015 by attorneys Richard J. Arsenault of Neblett, Beard & Arsenault in Alexandria, LA and Jerrold S. Parker of Parker Waichman LLP of Port Washington, NY. The six plaintiffs are from California, North Carolina, South Carolina and New York.
They charged that DePuy did not seek premarket approval from the FDA, and thus the agency made no finding that the pinnacle device is safe or effective. Instead DePuy used the FDA’s abbreviated 510(k) process, saying the Pinnacle hip was “substantially equivalent” to another, older metal-on-metal hip implant device that was sold and implanted prior to the enactment of the 1976 Medical Device Amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act.
DePuy started selling the Pinnacle in the early 2000s. Had the defendants conducted clinical trials of the Pinnacle Device, they would have discovered at that time what they ultimately learned in and around 2007 — that the Pinnacle Device results in a high percentage of patients developing metallosis, biologic toxicity and an early and high failure rate. Implantation of the Pinnacle Device results in the nearly immediate systemic release of high levels of toxic cobalt-chromium metal ions into every hip implant patient’s tissue and bloodstream.
The plaintiffs had the DePuy hip implanted in 2005 to 2010, and had to have revision surgery to replace it.