In a verdict that had Johnson & Johnson attorneys standing in the courtroom with their mouths hanging open, a Dallas jury awarded a sum of $1 billion to six plaintiffs who forged a suit after they were harmed by the company’s Pinnacle hip implant products.
Specifically, the jurors determined that the metal-on-metal hip implants, used in thousands of hip replacement surgeries throughout the world, were defective in design, and also determined that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers of the risks of having the implant inserted.
It was a huge blow for the company, which still faces more than 8,000 lawsuits that are Pinnacle-related.
Attorneys for consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson said they would immediately appeal the verdict. They also noted, in a statement following the trial, that they are committed to protecting themselves and subsidiary, DePuy Orthopedics, from further litigation in regards to the Pinnacle devices.
The plaintiffs in the billion-dollar case were all from California and all suffered debilitating health problems due to the implant. The victims reported tissue death, bone erosion, and a host of other injuries due to the faulty design of the Pinnacle implant.
In their suit, the plaintiffs noted that Johnson & Johnson claimed that the Pinnacle product would last longer than its competitors, whose products are made primarily of plastic and ceramic materials. J & J and DePuy denied any wrongdoing in regards to the design of the implant and their marketing lingo and methods.
Attorney for the plaintiffs, Mark Lanier, told the press that the verdict was “a message loud and clear” that J&J has “a really nasty part of their business they need to clean up.”
J&J and DePuy had previously turned down a settlement offer in this, the third “test case” among 8,400 lawsuits against the companies that have been consolidated in Texas federal court. The six plaintiffs had been willing to settle for $1.8 million, Lanier reported.
Johnson & Johnson attorneys criticized the judge in this case, claiming that some of his verdicts showed prejudiced against the company and helped the plaintiffs.
“Today’s verdict provides no guidance on the merits of the overall Pinnacle litigation because the court’s rulings precluded a fair presentation to the jury,” said John Beisner, J&J’s attorney. He added that the company will ask the appeals court to postpone any additional trials over the implant defects.
DePuy stopped selling the Pinnacle implants in 2013 after the FDA changed and strengthened its regulations in regards to hip implants. Trouble had already started brewing by then; J&J paid $2.5 billion that year to settle 7,000 A.S.R. hip implant-related cases.