Five plaintiffs have won a $502 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a bellwether trial concerning the company’s DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. The trial consolidated cases involving five separate plaintiffs who are residents of Texas. The cases that were decided were: 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 jury trial officially began on Jan. 8, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Division. The jury’s verdict came after 37 days of testimony, which mainly focused on the complications resulting from the devices and shady deals made by the company to push the devices onto the public. After hearing the arguments, the jury awarded the plaintiffs $142 million in compensatory damages and $360 million in punitive damages. Johnson & Johnson has not said whether the company is planning to appeal the verdict.
There are currently more than 7,000 plaintiffs recorded nationwide in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuits claim that DePuy implants were defective and caused metal fragments to enter into patients’ bloodstreams. The plaintiffs say that the metal fragments from these dangerous devices caused severe injuries and sometimes led to revision surgery. The lawsuits also claim that the company knew that the devices were dangerously defective and continued to sell them anyway.
The evidence in the testimony against the company included allegations of hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to orthopedic surgeons to use and recommend this product. Plaintiffs’ attorneys also brought light to several occasions in which doctors lied in medical clinical testing of the devices or forged consent forms for patients. The plaintiffs claim that Johnson & Johnson knew about the manipulation of science being used to sell the product.
While the DePuy Pinnacle hip implants have not been recalled, the problems with the devices have been well documented for years. The company has also been sued in the past over its metal-on-metal hip devices by patients who experienced complications. In 2013, the Johnson & Johnson Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) device was the subject of a $4 billion settlement.