A $500 million verdict, which was awarded to victims in a faulty hip implant suit against Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy subsidiary, has been significantly reduced by a Texas judge.
Northern Texas District Judge Ed Kinkeade reduced the half-billion-dollar judgement to approximately $151 million after weighing Texas state laws which he says compelled him to recalculate the damages according to a defined formula. Judge Kinkeade’s ruling also rejected Johnson & Johnson’s call for a new trail, which the companies claimed was necessary due to juror bias. The defendants argued that jurors had heard unfair and biased information before the trail, which had put them at an unfair disadvantage. Judge Kinkeade disagreed.
Bittersweet Ruling for Plaintiffs
The plaintiffs in the case, 5 victims who had been injured by the defective Pinnacle hip implant, had previously been awarded $140 million in compensatory damages, and $360 million in punitive damages against the company. After the decision to reduce the award was announced lawyers for the plaintiffs expressed disappointment that the award had been reduced so significantly, but were content that the judge declined to order a new trial.
Thousands of Lawsuits
The plaintiffs say the manufacturers’ hip implants suffer from significant design flaws, which include the socket being designed as a metal-on-metal joint. The plaintiffs claim that friction resulting from the metal-on-metal design of the implants can cause the devices to release metal ions into the blood, resulting in painful and sometimes permanent injuries, such as bone erosion and even tissue death.
Though DePuy stopped selling the Pinnacle brand hip implants in 2013, the company’s legal woes appear have no end in sight. DePuy paid out $2.5 billion in 2013 to settle over 7,000 lawsuits relating to another faulty metal-on-metal hip implant, which had been the subject of a recall. Together, Johnson & Johnson and DePuy are facing over 8,000 additional lawsuits relating to defective hip implants.
After the verdict the companies’ counsel signaled that they are not in agreement with the ruling and plan to appeal.