3rd Pinnacle Hip Implants Bellwether Trial Leads to $1.04 Billion Verdict for Plaintiffs

Pinnacle Hip Implants

An increasing number of consumers are experiencing serious problems with their artificial hip implants.  One company in particular, DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, is facing thousands of hip implants lawsuits.  The defective medical device lawyers at our firm have posted an informational page on DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implants.  A Pinnacle hip implants MDL is progressing.  Recently, the third Pinnacle MDL bellwether trial was completed in Texas.  The case led to a verdict for the plaintiffs in the amount of $1.04 billion.  This is the largest verdict levied against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson out of the three bellwether trials that have occurred.  Below you’ll find an overview of this specific trial.  Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible if you have been injured by this product.

About the Recent Pinnacle Hip Implants Bellwether Trial

Law360.com reported on the case.  Six individual plaintiffs from California were chosen to be part of this bellwether trial.  The plaintiffs all basically claimed that using Pinnacle hip implants led to serious complications and several other forms of loss.  Each of the plaintiffs were fitted with a hip implant product known as the Pinnacle Ultamet.  These hip implants are known as “metal-on-metal” implants because they consist of a ball and a socket that basically mimic the movement and functions of a natural hip joint.  Each of these parts is made of metal.

The plaintiffs claimed that because of this metal-on-metal design, the ball and head of the Ultamet rub together with each step and release billions of metallic particles into the bloodstream.  This release of metal particles can lead to what is known to be a form of metal poisoning that is referred to as metallosis.  Metallosis is a dangerous condition that can lead to serious complications if it is not diagnosed and treated.

As a result of this alleged design defect, the plaintiffs claim to have suffered from tissue death, bone erosion and other injuries.  Each of the plaintiffs had to have corrective surgeries done in order to remove the Ultamet hip implants.  This led them to file their respective hip implants lawsuits against the defendants.

Allegations In the Pinnacle Hip Implants Bellwether Trial

The six plaintiffs in this particular bellwether trial alleged the following on the part of the defendants:

  1. Negligent design defect
  2. Negligent failure to warn
  3. Strict liability – failure to warn
  4. Failure to recall
  5. Negligent misrepresentation
  6. Intentional misrepresentation
  7. Fraudulent concealment

These allegations are known as causes of action in the legal world.  Each one of these causes of action constitutes a theory as to why the defendants should be held liable for the damages incurred by the plaintiffs.

The Jury’s Verdict

After two months in trial, the jury deliberated for less than one day before returning its verdict.  The jury decided that DePuy was liable for all seven causes of action.  It found Johnson & Johnson liable for aiding and abetting DePuy in all but the negligent design defect cause of action.  Overall, the jury sided with the plaintiffs on 13 of the 14 claims.  It ultimately found DePuy and Johnson & Johnson liable for $1.04 billion in total damages.  A large portion of that award was provided in the form of punitive damages, as the jury found that the defendants had acted maliciously and/or fraudulently.  The damages award broke down further as follows:

  • Between $4 million and $6 million to each plaintiff for physical injuries and pain and suffering
  • $1 million each to four spouses of the plaintiffs for loss of companionship and enjoyment of life together
  • $504 million against DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson in punitive damages

Johnson & Johnson released a statement immediately after the verdict declaring that it would appeal the decision.  The defense feels that several decisions made both before and during trial led to what they believe is an unjust result.

Previous Pinnacle Hip Implants Bellwether Verdicts

More than 8,400 Pinnacle hip implants lawsuits have been filed by individual consumers against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson.  The first bellwether trial, involving a plaintiff from Montana, ended in a verdict for the defense.  The second bellwether trial, also held in Texas, led to a verdict for the plaintiffs.  Those plaintiffs were awarded more than $500 million in damages.  However, Texas law places caps on certain types of damages.  That led to a reduction of the award to slightly more than $170 million.  Even though the defendants plan to appeal this verdict, these plaintiffs are not subject to Texas law on damages caps.  That’s because the plaintiffs are from California and governed by California law.

Next Steps

The next Pinnacle hip implants bellwether trial is scheduled to begin in September of 2017.  In the meantime, it’s possible that the defendants in this matter will begin to look at the potential financial liability that they could face if this trend continues and adopt a different approach.  There are several purposes for multidistrict litigations, or MDLs.  One of the ways that these situations have played out in the past is for the defendants to realize that they could be facing enormous losses.  That has led other defendants in MDLs to negotiate settlements with the plaintiffs.

There is no telling what DePuy and Johnson & Johnson will do in response to this latest verdict.  What is known is that there are 8,400 other plaintiffs who are waiting for their days in court.  The fact that this Pinnacle hip implants MDL is occurring does not mean that others who have been harmed by this product cannot still assert their legal rights in some fashion.  If this includes you or someone you love, you need to take steps to obtain the legal advice necessary in helping you decide how you should proceed.  If you need this type of help, contact the Pinnacle hip implants lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.

Posted in: Product Defect
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