Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, DePuy Orthopedics, is starting to sweat bullets over its hip implant lawsuits. Last May, the companies were ordered to pay a whopping $502 million to five plaintiffs who suffered serious health complications from their defective Pinnacle hip implants.
Last week, a Texas judge slashed the damages to only $141 million in accordance with Texas law, but the news is bittersweet for DePuy. The company had also asked for a retrial on the grounds that plaintiffs’ attorneys presented irrelevant and unfair evidence during the trial, but that request was denied.
DePuy has appealed the verdict, and is still waiting to hear whether or not the appeal will be granted. While the company waits, the next hip implant trials are slowly growing closer. The company is afraid the next Pinnacle bellwether hip implant trial will begin in September before its appeal is heard. This has prompted the company to ask for an expedited appeal.
The clock is ticking for DePuy who is facing more than 8,400 hip implant lawsuits. If the company can’t get it together before the next trial, it could spell disaster.
But this isn’t the only hip implant J&J and DePuy have had legal trouble with. The companies recalled an earlier hip implant model called the ASR in 2010, after a study found the device has a 13% revision rate. Three years later, the companies paid a massive $2.5 billion to settle more than 7,000 DePuy ASR lawsuits.
The high rate of fracture in the companies’ hip implants is attributed to a design defect that allows the metal components to grind against each other, causing toxic ions to be shed into the bloodstream. Many patients who have received these metal-on-metal hip implants have had to undergo additional surgery to replace and/or remove the defective implants.
Regardless of whether or not the expedited appeal is granted, DePuy has a lot to answer for. September will be a pivotal month for the company and for plaintiffs in the Pinnacle hip implant litigation.