In December 2016, a federal jury in Dallas, Texas sided with six plaintiffs in a high-profile DePuy Pinnacle® lawsuit, ordering the device's manufacturer, DePuy Orthopaedics, and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, to pay $1.04 billion in damages. The lawsuits filed by the six plaintiffs—all California residents—claimed the Pinnacle hip implant's flawed metal-on-metal design caused serious health problems, including bone erosion and tissue death, and that DePuy and Johnson & Johnson failed to warn consumers and doctors about the risks associated with the devices.
Of the $1.04 billion, $32 million were designated as compensatory damages, while the remainder was punitive damages, designed to discourage the defendants from continuing bad business practices.
Both DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson have denied any wrongdoing in connection with the development, testing, and marketing of the Pinnacle hip implants. The companies plan to appeal this ruling, as they have previous rulings in Pinnacle bellwether cases, according to a statement from DePuy spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley.
Whether the $1.04 billion financial award will stand remains to be seen. Such awards are often reduced and scaled back by the court, particularly in Texas, where a state law limits punitive damages awards.
DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuits
DePuy’s Pinnacle Hip Replacement System was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000. The system's metal-on-metal design was originally touted as being stronger and more durable than ceramic or plastic counterparts.
However, DePuy stopped selling its metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants in 2013, after the FDA tightened regulations on artificial hip replacement devices. In the interim, numerous patients with DePuy Pinnacle implants suffered from serious side effects and complications including:
- Metallosis, a poisoning caused by metal shavings released into the body when metal-on-metal components grind together
- Death of tissue surrounding the implant
- Bone erosion, resulting in the need for painful and invasive hip replacement and reconstructive surgeries
As of May 2016, nearly 9,000 patients had filed lawsuits against DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson, citing premature hip implant failure and other serious health complications related to use of the metal-on-metal Pinnacle devices. The cases have been consolidated in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas with U.S. District Judge Edward Kinkeade presiding over test cases that will be used to gauge the outcomes of the remaining cases.
The case in which the $1.04 billion was awarded was the third such test case. DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson were cleared of liability in the first test case in October 2014. However, in the second test case, which was decided in March 2016, the companies were ordered to pay $502 million to a group of five patients who experienced health problems as a result of failing Pinnacle hip implants. Judge Kinkeade subsequently reduced the amount of damages to $151 million. The plaintiffs are in the process of appealing that decision.
Judge Kinkeade has another test Pinnacle hip implant test trial scheduled for September 2017.
DePuy ASR Recall
The Pinnacle debacle isn't the first time DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson have faced lawsuits related to faulty metal-on-metal hip implants. The companies recalled their ASR® metal-on-metal hip devices in 2010 due to high failure rates, and subsequently paid $2.5 billion to settle more than 7,000 lawsuits related to the failure of those devices.
Were You Harmed by a Faulty DePuy Hip Implant?
If you or someone you love experienced serious health problems and complications related to failing Pinnacle hip implant devices, you may be eligible to pursue compensation for damages, including ongoing medical treatments; wages; lost during time away from work; loss of earning potential if you're no longer able to work; and pain and suffering. The ability to seek damages for pain and suffering is particularly important for many patients with failed DePuy hip implants, as the associated revision and reconstructive surgeries tend to be more invasive and more painful than the original hip replacement surgery.
Are you considering filing a DePuy Pinnacle lawsuit? The experienced personal injury attorneys with McGartland Law can help you fight for the financial award you deserve. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial case consultation.