J&J Pushes Back Against $245M Defective Metal Hip Judgement

Metal Hip Judgement
By Emily Cox

Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit are fighting a $245 million metal hip judgement over dangerously defective hip implants, telling a Texas federal judge Wednesday that the injured plaintiffs failed to prove portions of their claims.

J&J and DePuy filed three separate motions Wednesday, asking District Judge Ed Kinkeade to overturn the jury’s findings in favor of the New York plaintiffs who claimed the companies deliberately failed to warn about the metal-on-metal hip implants’ substantial defects.

J&J argued that New York law dictates that “no reasonable jury” could have found it liable in a case built “almost entirely on the fact that it is the ultimate parent company of DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.” According to J&J, the plaintiffs needed to show that J&J “manufactured or distributed the Pinnacle Ultamet” to succeed on these claims under New York law.

Furthermore, J&J claimed that all findings that the company failed to warn about the product’s dangerous nature also cannot stand, as none of the plaintiffs “proffered any expert testimony that the warnings accompanying the Pinnacle hip implant were inadequate.”

In its third motion, J&J asserted that the court must overturn the verdict on jurisdictional grounds because none of the cases had any connection to Texas.

“Notably, plaintiffs never contended that their claims had any relevant connection to Texas, and the court likewise did not hold that any such connection was established in rejecting defendants’ personal jurisdiction objections prior to trial,” J&J wrote. “Instead, the court concluded that defendants waived objections to personal jurisdiction by virtue of their agreement to waive venue in connection with the first two bellwether trials.”

Metal Hip Judgement

In August, Judge Kinkeade entered a metal hip judgement of more than $245 million for the plaintiffs from a November 2017 bellwether trial against J&J and DePuy that found the companies liable for the defective hip implants. The judgement covers past and future medical expense and punitive damages, as well as pain and suffering. The case was the fourth bellwether trial in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) that encompasses more than 9,000 cases alleging substantial design defects.

The plaintiffs counsel says that J&J’s motions are simply a “rehash” of arguments the court has already rejected.

This past November, Texas federal jury hit the companies with a combined $247 million metal hip judgement, levying the third consecutive nine-figure verdict in the ongoing MDL.

The jury unanimously found J&J and DePuy liable for a series of deign and manufacturing defects, fraud, and deceptive business practices, ruling that the companies had acted in a wanton, reckless, and malicious manner.

During the trial, jurors heard that J&J rushed the hip implants into production without clinical trials and used cheap and unsafe materials to shore up its bottom line.

In 2016, Texas juries ruled in favor of two groups of plaintiffs from Texas and California, returning with $504 million and more than $1 billion in verdicts, respectively. However, the court later reduced these awards to $150 million and $543 million. In the first bellwether trial over dangerous Pinnacle Ultamet defects, the jury sided with the manufacturers against a sole Montana plaintiff.