Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Trial Continued Until September 18th Based on Appeal

Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics Latest “Pinnacle Hip Implant Trial” Continued Until September 18th Based on Fifth Circuit Appeal 

  • By Mark A. York (September 15, 2017)

  • Mass Tort Nexus

 

 

 

 

 

The latest bellwether trial in the  DePuy Pinnacle MDL 2244 (see DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant MDL 2244 Briefcase) litigation has been postponed until September 18th, based on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruling, just days before the trial was to start, where they cited “grave error” by the sitting US District Court judge, in requesting a trial delay. The trial start date was September 5th, where eight plaintiffs from New York were part of the DePuy Pinnacle MDL 2255 multidistrict litigation, who are now facing jurisdictional issues based on the June 2017 SCOTUS “Plavix Ruling” that restricts jurisdiction over plaintiffs who are residents of another state, SCOTUS Plavix Jurisdictional Ruling Strikes Non-Resident CA Plaintiffs. The Plavix ruling forced thousands of non-California residents to determine if and where they can refile their claims against Bristol-Myers Squibb. DePuy Orthopaedics and it’s parent Johnson & Johnson (J&J) are asserting the Plavix ruling by stating that the New York residents are not subject to jurisdiction of the US District Court ND Texas and the trial should be stopped. This seems to fly in the face of the justification of certain tenants of the Joint Panel on Multidistrict Litigation rules of procedure, which assigned the DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant cases to the Texas court to consolidate the many thousands of cases across the country.

 J&J Wants To Avoid More Massive Trial Verdicts

J&J are simply using evry legal tool available, in an attempt to avoid another massive jury verdict like the one in the December 2016 Pinnacle Hip Implant trial, where California plaintiffs were awarded $1 billion in punitive damages, which the court subsequently reduced to $500 million on appeal. DePuy and J&J want to restrict plaintiffs in any way they can, as J&J is facing massive verdicts in other ongoing federal and state court cases related to it’s various other medical device and pharmaceutical product lines.

Appeals Panel Denies Writ of Mandamus Petition

On August 23rd, the Fifth Circuit panel denied Johnson & Johnson’s and DePuy Orthopaedics’ petition for writ of mandamus, which sought to halt the upcoming trial. However, two of the three panel members found that the judge proceeding over the consolidated DePuy Pinnacle litigation in Texas had allowed certain trials to take place before him which a “judicial error” including the one that as scheduled to begin yesterday where plaintiffs were New York residents. On September 1st, U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Northern District of Texas issued an Order delaying the next DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement trial until September 18, 2017.

DePuy Pinnacle Hip Verdicts

The multidistrict litigation underway in the Northern District of Texas, DePuy Pinnacle MDL 2244, currently involves more than 9,000 hip replacement lawsuits related to the metal-on-metal version of DePuy Orthopedics’ Pinnacle hip system that utilizes the Ultamet liner. Plaintiffs claim that this configuration is defectively designed, as it sheds toxic metals into the joint surround the hip, as well as the blood stream, causing adverse local tissue reactions, metallosis, pseudotumor formation, and other complications that necessitate the need for revision surgery to replace the joint.

As of August 2017, MDL 2244 Pinnacle hip litigation has convened three bellwether trials. The first concluded in October 2014, with a verdict for DePuy and Johnson & Johnson.

In March 2016, five plaintiffs were awarded a total of $500 million at the close of the second DePuy Pinnacle trial, where the judge overseeing the case reduced the award to $151 million, in order to comply with Texas law governing punitive damages.

The largest hip implant trial verdict anywhere to date was in the DePuy MDL’s third bellwether trial which ended December 2, 2016, where six Pinnacle implant recipients, who were California residents, were awarded more than $1 billion in punitive damages, see $1 billion DePuy Hip Implant Verdict in MDL 2244, with the judgment later reduced to $543 million, by Judge Kinkeade.

DePuy Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Issues

In January 2013, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration warned that metal-on-metal hip replacements were associated with higher rates of early failure compared to those constructed from other materials.  Last year, the FDA finalized a new regulation requiring the manufacturers of two types of metal-on-metal hips to submit a premarket approval (PMA) application if they wanted to continue marketing their current devices and/or market a new implant.

In August 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics announced a recall of its ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement system, after data indicated the hips were associated with a higher-than-expected rate of premature failure.  Plaintiffs who have filed Pinnacle hip lawsuits question why the company has not taken similar action in regards to the Pinnacle/Ultamet liner combination.

In May 2013, DePuy Orthopaedics did announce that it would phase out metal-on-metal hip implants, including the device named in Pinnacle hip replacement lawsuits. According to The New York Times, the company cited slowing sales, as well as the FDA’s changing regulatory stance on all-metal hip implants, as factors in its decision.

 

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DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Trial Set for Today Delayed Based on Appellate Ruling of “Grave Error” By Sitting Judge

DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Bellwether Trial Set For September 5th Delayed After Appeals Court Cites Grave Error By Judge

 

 

 

 

 

DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson

By Mark A. York (September 5, 2017)

Federal Judge Ed Kinkeade has delayed the next DePuy Pinnacle hip implant bellwether trial that was set for today, Sept. 5, 2017 until later this month after a split federal appeals panel requested that he halt the proceedings due to a “grave error.”

In the August 31st opinion, two of three judges on a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit refused to grant a petition for writ of mandamus filed by DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. to halt the trial. But two of the three also concluded that U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade, who is presiding over 9,300 cases alleging DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implants are defective, committed a “grave error” in allowing certain trials to take place before him, including the one scheduled this month on behalf of eight New York plaintiffs.

Opinion Outline

The opinion stated “despite finding serious error, a majority of this panel denies the writ that petitioners seek to prohibit the district court from proceeding to trial on plaintiffs’ cases,” wrote Circuit Judge Jerry Smith. “A majority requests the district court to vacate its ruling on waiver and to withdraw its order for a trial beginning September 5, 2017.”

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom lead counsel for Johnson & Johnson, DePuy’s parent company, called on Judge Kinkeade to halt the trial, which is the fourth bellwether in the multidistrict litigation over the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant. This may help DePuy and J&J avoid a repeat of the last Pinnacle verdict in the prior bellwether trial where a Dallas jury awarded over $1 billion in damages, subsequently reduced by Judge Kinkeade, see DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Dec 2016 Trial Verdict Halved to Just $500 million in December 2016, which DePuy-J&J are appealing.

“We are pleased that the Fifth Circuit has determined that the MDL court does not have jurisdiction to conduct its planned trial of the claims of eight New York plaintiffs in a Texas courtroom,” Beisner wrote in an emailed statement after the ruling.

Plaintiff Counsel Surprised

Lead plaintiffs attorney Mark Lanier called it the “wildest opinion I’ve ever seen.”

“What this small panel has tried to do is change the law in the Fifth Circuit on a mandamus record, and that’s really frowned about,” said Lanier, of The Lanier Law Firm in Houston, who was joined in the appeal by former U.S. Solicitor General Kenneth Starr.

In addition to this month’s trial, the ruling could impact a separate case before the Fifth Circuit in which Johnson & Johnson has raised the same venue arguments in appealing a $1.04 billion verdict in the most recent Pinnacle trial. Oral argument on that appeal hasn’t yet been scheduled.

“Why this court issues an order on another court’s case, which is just an advisory opinion, is just absurd,” said Lanier. “It’s judicial activism.”

Lanier filed a petition for rehearing en banc on Friday. Later that afternoon, Kinkeade ordered the trial delayed until Sept. 18.

Final Bellwether trial

Kinkeade appeared to anticipate the Fifth Circuit’s intervention. On Aug. 25, he ordered that this month’s trial would “be the final bellwether case tried in the Dallas division of the Northern District of Texas” under which both sides have waived venue.  This was an unexpected ruling for the Pinnacle litigation, where Johnson & Johnson has appealed two other verdicts in Kinkeade’s courtroom, both involving consolidated cases that led to major awards in 2016,. Johnson & Johnson won the first verdict in 2014. But a second trial ended with a verdict of $502 million awarded to five Texas plaintiffs, while the third gave $1.04 billion verdict to six California plaintiffs.

All DePuy Hip Implant Litigation

These cases are part of the 8,707 actions consolidated before Judge Kinkeade in MDL 2244, In re DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 3:11-md-02244, Northern District of Texas in Dallas.

Juries have found that DePuy and J&J have 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 damages.

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.

DePuy Claims “Lexecon” Error

DePuy and Johnson & Johnson have argued that Kinkeade lacked jurisdiction over the trials involving California and New York plaintiffs. MDL judges are assigned to oversee pretrial matters with the intention of sending cases back to their original courts for trial. But defendants often waive that right under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1998 holding in Lexecon v. Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, which allows bellwether trials to proceed before an MDL judge.

Johnson & Johnson claims it waived that right as to the first and second trials, but not the third or fourth. Plaintiffs’ attorneys have insisted that Johnson & Johnson agreed to a global waiver over all the trials.

Mass Tort Nexus will provide additional details of the ongoing trial dispute as information becomes available.

 

 

 

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5th Circuit Denies Motion to Hear DePuy Hip Appeals Together

DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip
DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip

The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals denied the motion of eight successful plaintiffs who last year obtained a combined total of $646 million in damages against DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. in two jointly-tried cases where juries found that the company knowingly sold a defective hip replacement.

On Jan. 6, five plaintiffs obtained a $146.2 million judgment against DePuy in a consolidated Pinnacle hip bellwether trial had filed a motion asking the Fifth Circuit to consolidate their appeal with that of a $500 million judgment in a subsequent multi-plaintiff bellwether trial.

They argued that the cases were very similar except that the law of Texas governed the second trial, and the law of California governed the third.

The court said no in a one-page order. The case is In re DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, No. 16-11051 in the 5th Circuit. There are 8,751 cases consolidated in MDL 2244 before US District Judge James Edgar Kinkeade in the Northern District of Texas in Dallas.

DePuy is also facing 1,480 lawsuits in MDL 2197 before US District Judge Jeffrey J. Helmick in DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation.

In the Texas MDL:

  • J&J prevailed in the first Pinnacle hip case to go to trial in October 2014.
  • In the second bellwether trial, a jury awarded $502 million to five of the patients in March 2016. The court cut the award to $150 million.
  • In the third bellwether trial, a jury awarded $1.04 billion in December 2016. The judge cut the punitive damages portion of the award in half.

Design flaws

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 evidence demonstrated that:

  1. The Pinnacle Ultamet was defectively designed and marketed by Defendants.
  2. Defendants failed to provide adequate warnings for the device.
  3. Defendants failed to test the device in people before putting it on the market.
  4. Defendants knew or should have known of the dangers of metal-on-metal hip implants.
  5. Defendants misrepresented or concealed material facts about the device.
  6. Defendants polluted the scientific literature with fraudulent studies and biased doctors.
  7. Defendants routinely used improper consulting agreements to induce orthopedic surgeons to use and market their products.
  8. Defendants routinely prioritized marketing and sales over product safety.

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Plaintiffs in DePuy Hip Cases Ask 5th Circuit to Hear Appeals Together

depuy-asr-hip-replacementEight successful plaintiffs in In re DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation have called on the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals to consolidate all the appeals from two jointly-tried cases where juries found that the company knowingly sold a defective hip replacement.

Citing Fed. R. App. P. 3(b)(2) allowing appeals to be joined, the plaintiffs point out that the cases have the same MDL, defendants, lawyers, plaintiff injuries, evidence and witnesses. The appeals arise out of the second and third bellwether trials in MDL 2244 before US District Judge James Edgar Kinkeade in the Northern District of Texas. A total of 8,707 lawsuits are pending against DePuy in case No. 3:11-md-02244.

  • J&J prevailed in the first Pinnacle hip case to go to trial in October 2014.
  • In the second bellwether trial, a jury awarded $502 million to five of the patients in March 2016. The court cut the award to $150 million.
  • In the third bellwether trial, a jury awarded $1.04 billion in December 2016. The judge cut the punitive damages portion of the award in half.

The only difference is that the law of Texas governed the second trial, and the law of California governed the third.

Design flaws

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 evidence demonstrated that:

(i) the Pinnacle Ultamet was defectively designed and marketed by Defendants.

(ii) Defendants failed to provide adequate warnings for the device.

(iii) Defendants failed to test the device in people before putting it on the market.

(iv) Defendants knew or should have known of the dangers of metal-on-metal hip implants.

(v) Defendants misrepresented or concealed material facts about the device.

(vi) Defendants polluted the scientific literature with fraudulent studies and biased doctors.

(vii) Defendants routinely used improper consulting agreements to induce orthopedic surgeons to use and market their products.

(viii) Defendants routinely prioritized marketing and sales over product safety.

The motion was filed by Kenneth W. Starr; The Lanier Law Firm, PC (W. Mark Lanier, Kevin Parker, M. Michelle Carreras); Fisher, Boyd, Johnson & Huguenard, LLP (Wayne Fisher, Justin Presnal); Neblett, Beard & Arsenault (Richard J. Arsenault, Jennifer M. Hoekstra); Simmons Hanly Conroy (Jayne Conroy, Andrea Bierstein), counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

 

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Judge Chops $1 Billion Verdict in Half in Defective DePuy Hip Case

DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip
DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip

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

Still facing 8,707 lawsuits

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.

Single-digit ratio

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:

  • Andrews v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., case number 3:15-cv-03484
  • Davis v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., case number 3:15-cv-01767
  • Metzler v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., case number 3:12-cv-02066
  • Rodriguez v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., case number 3:13-cv-03938
  • Standerfer v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., case number 3:14-cv-01730
  • Weiser v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. et al., case number 3:13-cv-03631.

The judge did not disturb $4 million and $6 million in compensatory damage awards.

 

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Anticipating Settlement, Plaintiff Who Waited to Serve Complaint Loses Claim Against DePuy

depuy-asr-hip-replacementA woman who waited to serve a complaint in hopes of a settlement lost her claim against DePuy Orthopaedics alleging a defective hip implant because she let the two-year statute of limitations pass. The 11th US Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s award of summary judgment.

In 2000, plaintiff Maeola Goldthrip was implanted with a Prodigy hip system made by the DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.  In 2013, the femoral component of the hip failed, requiring revision surgery.

DePuy is facing 8,661 product liability actions before US District Judge James Edgar Kinkeade in MDL 2244IN RE: De Puy Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation. It is facing an additional 1,458 actions before US District Judge Jeffrey J. Helmick in MDL 2197, IN RE: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation.

Two days before deadline

On December 23, 2015, two days before the Alabama two-year statute of limitations expired, Maeola Goldthirp and Vickie Goldthrip filed a complaint against DePuy, D.C. Docket No. 2:15-cv-00651-KD-B in the Southern District of Alabama. The last page of the complaint indicated the plaintiffs were “withholding service of process” in an effort to avoid expenses and facilitate settlement discussions.

On December 28, 2015, the plaintiffs sent letters with copies of the complaint and a proposed tolling agreement to DePuy’s registered agent and a DePuy litigation paralegal. A summons was not issued until February 17, 2016, after the district court judge instructed Plaintiffs’ counsel that there is “no legal authority that permits them to file a complaint in federal court and then essentially sit on it until they decide that they are ready to move forth with the prosecution.”

After being served with the summons, DePuy answered and immediately moved for summary judgment. The district court found plaintiffs did not commence the action prior to Alabama’s two-year statute of limitations deadline and granted summary judgment in favor of DePuy. The district court held that “Plaintiffs failed to commence their action when they filed the Complaint on December 23, 2015, because they did not immediately serve or have the intent to immediately serve the Defendant.”

In a case directly on point, the Alabama Supreme Court stated that, when “the plaintiff intentionally interferes with this service by ordering that service be withheld, then the filing will not constitute the commencement of the action, since there is no intent to prosecute the claim at that time.” Freer v. Potter, 413 So. 2d 1079, 1081 (Ala. 1982).

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