May 16, 2016
On March 15, 2016, a Texas federal court awarded five plaintiffs $502 million after DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson, its parent company, were found liable, negligent and responsible for their chronic pain and physical problems.
The court heard testimony from the plaintiffs and expert witnesses on both sides for 37 days. After more than five days of deliberations, the federal jury ordered the former manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants to pay the money to the Texas residents who testified they suffered severe injuries from the medical devices. The financial breakdown included $142 million in actual damages and $360 million in punitive sanctions.
Arguing that the company knew the device was defective, lead plaintiff attorney Mark Lanier claimed the company failed to adequately warn the public. At trial, he also claimed that J&J, fraudulently assisted DePuy Orthopaedics in misrepresenting the product dangers.
Jurors heard testimony describing the devices’ excessive failure rates. Lanier claimed these device failures caused tissue loss, bone erosion, severe pain and inflammation and other issues.
Should the verdict be upheld, the five plaintiffs will share the judgment, depending on how seriously they were injured. The victims include one woman and four men and range in age from 53 to 79.
Over 8,000 additional cases, which have been combined in multi-district litigation before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas, are pending against the conglomerate. The next group of cases will probably be heard during the fall of 2016. In all likelihood, the parties will reach a settlement agreement after more of the cases go through the court process.
DePuy Orthopaedics plans to appeal the decision and submitted a written response denying the allegations. A company attorney stated that punitive sanctions will drop to about $10 million pursuant to Texas laws even if the ruling is upheld.
The company has since stopped selling the hip implants. They previously recalled 93,000 devices globally, citing a failure rate of 12 percent with the first five years.
The Food and Drug Administration strictly oversees the use of medical devices and similar products in the United States. If a hip implant or other medical device has injured you, contact our legal team for help.