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J&J Seeks Expedited Appeal for $151M Pinnacle Verdict

Johnson & Johnson lost a $500 million federal case in Texas earlier this year involving its Pinnacle hip replacement devices. However, the company won an important victory recently when the U.S. District judge overseeing the case slashed that damage award to $151 million, finding the punitive damage award excessive. gavel1

The verdict had been in favor of five plaintiffs and three spouses, who after a two month trial were collectively were supposed to receive $360 million in punitive damages and $140 million in compensatory damages.

Although the judge denied the company’s request to set aside the verdict or grant a new trial, the medical product behemoth is now seeking an expedited review of the verdict. The company has argued that jurors were improperly biased after hearing evidence that was both irrelevant and unfair during the trial. Attorneys for plaintiffs, however, say the bid for a new trial is nothing more than a flimsy attempt to snag a “do-over” after the strategy they employed during trial went awry. 

An attorney for J&J expressed confidence to Reuters that the verdict would be overturned on appeal.

J&J and DePuy had prevailed in the first bellwether trial of the multi-district litigation back in October 2014. But in the present case, jurors concluded the Pinnacle hips were designed defectively and posed an unreasonable risk to patients.

While the company is seeking to delay a third bellwether case (with an additional seven plaintiffs), it has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to expedite its review of this appeal, and further requested that all of the cases pending appeal be consolidated into one single appeal.

The company argues the outcome of the appeal is going to have a big impact on how the other defective hip lawsuits are handled.

The next case is slated for trial in September, and the multi-district litigation court denied a request to hold off on moving forward with that case. The judge overseeing the MDL cited the need to keep trying cases without any further significant delay.

But J&J has argued that all further cases should be on hold until it can resolve the $151 million verdict case. Although the cases do involve individualized legal facts, the company argued, there are allegedly a number of common legal errors in each case that would make it efficient and prudent to address all those appeals at the same time.

J&J and DePuy are still facing about 8,400 lawsuits specifically related to the Pinnacle devices. In most of these cases, the allegation is that friction between the metal components of the devices causes toxic metal shards to enter the blood stream. The lawsuits also allege bone erosion and tissue death, as well as the costs and risks of revision surgery and the pain and suffering of that as well as the device failure.

Once upon a time, artificial hips used to be made of porcelain and other materials. These proved noisy and had a number of other issues, but they typically lasted the full 15 years patients were promised. The new metal-on-metal models were supposed to offer even longer performance. However, they have in the end proven to be largely substandard.

If you are the victim of Massachusetts product liability, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

J&J asks 5th Circuit to delay next Pinnacle hip bellwether trial, June 24, 2016, By Jessica Dye, Reuters

More Blog Entries:

New Study on Outcomes of Different Hip Replacement Procedures, July 20, 2016, Boston Pinnacle Hip Replacement Lawyer