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Texas Personal Injury News

Friday, May 6, 2016

Johnson & Johnson to Pay $502 Million Over Flawed Pinnacle Hips

What is the latest news over J&J's hip replacement failures?

Medical device maker Johnson & Johnson was recently ordered to pay $502 million in damages to 5 patients over flawed artificial hip devices sold under the Pinnacle brand name. The defective devices were sold by J&J's Depuy unit, and a federal-court jury in Dallas found that company officials were aware of the flaws but failed to warn patients and doctors. In a product liability case, failure to warn is a key element in a successful lawsuit.

Pinnacle Hip Flaws

The flawed Pinnacle artificial hips prematurely failed causing pain and suffering to the patients who also required additional surgery. The verdict is said to be the second-largest jury award in the U.S. this year, of which $142 million was in actual damages and $360 million in punitive damages. While punitive damages are designed to induce a defendant to change its behavior, this is not the first time J&J has been forced to pay damages for failures in hip replacement devices.

In November 2013, J&J and Dupuy paid over $2.5 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits over defective ASR hip replacement devices. The company recalled 93,000 of those devices worldwide in August 2010, after acknowledging 12 percent failed within five years. In addition to replacement surgeries, many of the patients suffered extraordinary medical injuries such as strokes and heart attacks or requires multiple hip replacements surgeries.

The Pinnacle verdict is the second trial of about 8,000 lawsuits filed against J&J and DePuy; J&J prevailed in the first jury case in 2014. The company stopped selling the devices in 2013 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration toughened artificial-hip regulations. The plaintiffs in this case all received Pinnacle Ultramet hip replacements that failed after the devices leached cobalt and chromium into their bloodstreams.

The jury agreed that company officials knew the metal-on-metal design would cause such injuries but aggressively marketed the devices nonetheless. In short, the company earned billions in ill-gotten gains while misleading doctors and consumers about the dangers of the devices. For its part, Johnson & Johnson argues that it acted responsibly in designing and testing the devices and the Pinnacle replacements had a strong record of safety and effectiveness. The company intends to appeal the verdict and seek a reduction in the punitive damages.

Whether J&J will prevail remains to be seen and it appears the company will face additional lawsuits by patients who suffered similar injuries related to the Pinnacle devices. In the meantime, if you have been injured by a flawed medical device, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.


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