DePuy Pinnacle Update

On December 1, 2016, Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) and its DePuy Orthpaedics unit was ordered by a federal jury in Dallas, Texas to pay over $1 billion for their defective Pinnacle hip implants. The jury found J&J liable on claims of fraudulent concealment, negligent failure to warn, strict liability failure to warn, failure to recall, negligent design defect, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation. The verdict includes $32 million in compensatory damages and over $500 million in punitive damages.

DePuy Pinnacle Case Details

The DePuy Pinnacle case involved six plaintiffs who argued that the metal-on-metal construction of the DePuy Pinnacle implants caused metal particles to shed into the surrounding tissue, resulting in tissue damage, bone erosion, metallosis (blood poisoning), infection and inflammation. The implants lasted a distressingly short time—as little as five years. Typical hip implants made from other materials can last over 20 years. DePuy stopped selling the devices in 2013 after the FDA toughened regulations regarding hip implants.

This case is known as a bellwether case—a case which establishes how future cases on the same matter will be handled.

DePuy Pinnacle Verdict

The $1 billion dollar verdict is the third such bellwether case in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) regarding the Pinnacle hip implants. The first trial ended with a defense verdict in DePuy’s favor. The second trial resulted in a $500 million award for the plaintiffs, though the award was reduced to $150 million due to laws in Texas that limit punitive damages. The current case is not subject to the Texas limitations, because all of the plaintiffs were from California.

Both of the cases that went in the plaintiffs’ favor have been appealed. Currently, over 8,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy regarding these devices. Some of these will be selected as test cases to determine the outcome of the remaining claims.