Recently a Dallas federal jury slapped Johnson & Johnson (“J & J”) with a verdict of more than $1 billion in a lawsuit involving its subsidiary DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implants. The jury found that the implants had been designed defectively and that J & J and DePuy knowingly failed to warn the public about the risks of the products.
The verdict is significant for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that an additional 8,000-plus hip-implant lawsuits remain pending against the company. The lawsuit involved only six plaintiffs, setting the stage for massive potential recovery. J & J has said that it will appeal the verdict, which was secured by the legendary Mark Lanier of the Lanier Law Firm, a top-100 national firm with offices in Houston, Los Angeles, and Texas.
The $1.041 billion verdict included $32 million in compensatory damages and the rest were punitive. Given the amount of the punitive damages, it is possible that the verdict will be reduced. Reportedly, J & J had rejected a settlement offer before trial of just $1.8 million, which may indicate that in the future J & J will settle rather than litigate. The Pinnacle lawsuits are the second round of lawsuits against J & J and DePuy, which previously paid $2.5 billion to settle claims based on their earlier metal-on-metal hip implant devices, ASR.
The fact that J & J and DePuy have continued to produce and market defective metal-on-metal hip implant devices even after the prior payments on a related product demonstrates the need to let the Dallas jury’s verdict stand. If there is no penalty for knowingly putting defective products into patients’ bodies, history clearly indicates that the wrongdoing will continue, again and again.