Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm led a trial team that convinced a federal jury in Texas to side with six plaintiffs who suffered serious medical complications caused by the defective metal-on-metal hip implants made by Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics Inc.
The verdict was announced on Nov. 16. After a 14-hour deliberation, the jury awarded $247 million, which included more than $78 million in compensatory damages for the six plaintiffs and more than $168 million in punitive damages assessed against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy.
The plaintiffs alleged that the devices had unreasonably high failure rates resulting in severe pain and inflammation, bone erosion, tissue loss and other problems. The victims further claimed that DePuy officials knew about the dangers of the Pinnacle hip implants but failed to warn doctors or patients.
“We thank this jury for sending a very strong message about the responsibility the defendants have to take care of their consumers,” said Lanier. “Unfortunately, it took the defendants putting the plaintiffs through burdensome litigation before justice could be served. The companies should have done the right thing when these serious medical concerns became known many years ago.”
The trial was the fourth “bellwether” in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) consolidating more than 9,000 similar lawsuits nationwide. Bellwether trials are set to establish evidence and evaluate witness testimony that is representative of the issues involved in mass litigation. Two previous trials involving plaintiffs from California and Texas resulted in verdicts of $502 million and $1.04 billion.
The case, presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Northern District of Texas, is In re: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, No. 3:11-md-02244.