December 5, 2016
When the six plaintiffs offered Johnson & Johnson a $1.8 million settlement before going to trial, Johnson & Johnson rejected them. They had no idea a Dallas federal jury would return a verdict against Johnson & Johnson a thousand times as much for a total of $1 billion.
The six plaintiffs are Californians who received Johnson & Johnson’s Pinnacle hip implants. Pinnacle hip implants have caused tissue death and bone erosion in recipients due to its metal-on-metal design flaw. The jury found Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit liable for failing to warn consumers about Pinnacle’s risks and faulty design.
Hip Implant Cases as Mass Torts
This trial was the third test case or “bellwether trial” for the nearly 9,000 victims who have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson. The first case cleared Johnson & Johnson of liability, but the second case resulted in a $500 million verdict. Johnson & Johnson plans to appeal this third case’s $1 billion verdict and has successfully gotten the $500 million earlier verdict down to $151 million, although the plaintiffs in that case have appealed the diminished award.
The cases have been combined into a mass tort, which allows a few test cases to see trial and the remaining cases to base their out-of-court settlements with Johnson & Johnson on those verdicts. Mass torts differ from class action lawsuits because in class action lawsuits, hundreds or thousands of people have to split one award from one trial. In a mass tort, a few test cases go to trial before the hundreds or thousands of people who have joined can use those verdicts to guide their own individual settlements, allowing more victims to get the compensation they deserve.
Pinnacle cases have been consolidated into an MDL, or a multidistrict litigation. This federal procedure transfers and consolidates multiple similar civil lawsuits to speed the legal process and encourage out-of-court settlements. All Pinnacle cases in the mass tort are in an MDL in the Northern District of Texas United States District Court. Another test trial involving 10 hip recipients will likely occur in 2017.
Juries are siding with plaintiffs under the belief that Johnson & Johnson knew the Pinnacle hip implants were faulty but did not warn consumers of the risks of implantation in an effort to maximize sales.
Product liability means that companies and manufacturers of a product can be held responsible if that product is faulty. They are liable if their faulty product causes injuries or death. Not only may a judge rule that the companies are responsible for the actual damages of the plaintiffs, but he or she may also decide to impose punitive damages on a defendant in order to discourage them engaging in similar behavior.
In this latest Pinnacle trial, the punitive damages that Johnson & Johnson will have to pay are the largest awarded against a company this year.
Thousands of victims of Pinnacle implants are on their way to receiving the compensation they deserve. Other mass torts have been created for a variety of faulty hip implants and other devices. If you or a loved one has suffered from a faulty hip implant, it’s not too late. Call Hensley Legal Group today for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.