The federal judge overseeing coordinated pretrial proceedings for thousands of DePuy Pinnacle Hip lawsuits has selected 8 cases for the proceeding’s final bellwether trial.
In an Order dated August 25th, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Northern District of Texas directed that the following Pinnacle hip cases be prepared for jury trial beginning Tuesday, September 5th, in Dallas:
The multidistrict litigation underway in the Northern District of Texas currently houses more than 9,000 hip replacement lawsuits involving a metal-on-metal version of DePuy Orthopaedic’s Pinnacle hip system. The proceeding’s bellwether trials are intended to provide insight into how juries might rule in similar Pinnacle cases.
The federal litigation has already convened three Pinnacle hip trials. The first concluded in October 2014, with a verdict in favor of DePuy Orthopaedics and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson.
A second bellwether case concluded in March 2016, when five plaintiffs were awarded a total of $500 million. However, the judge overseeing the case ultimately reduced that award to $151 million, in order to comply with Texas law governing punitive damages.
The litigation’s third trial ended in December 2016, when six Pinnacle recipients were awarded more than $1 billion. That judgment was later reduced to $543 million. DePuy and Johnson & Johnson are currently appealing that verdict.
Plaintiffs with hip replacement lawsuits pending in the Northern District of Texas allege that the metal-on-metal design created by the Pinnacle/Ultamet liner configuration can shed dangerous amounts of toxic metal into the joint surround the hip, as well as the blood stream. This occurrence can cause adverse local tissue reactions, metallosis, pseudotumor formation, and other complications that necessitate the need for revision surgery to replace the joint.
Plaintiffs assert that the all-metal Pinnacle suffers from some of the same defects that prompted DePuy Orthopaedics to announce a hip replacement recall for its ASR line of metal implants in August 2010, and question why the company has not taken similar action in regards to the Pinnacle/Ultamet liner combination.
In January 2013, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration warned that metal-on-metal hip replacements were associated with higher rates of early failure compared to those constructed from other materials. All-metal hip patients were advised to talk to their doctor if they experienced any issues with their implants, while physicians were urged to consider metal ion blood testing and imaging for symptomatic patients.
In May 2013, DePuy Orthopaedics announced that it would phase out metal-on-metal hip implants, including the device named in Pinnacle hip lawsuits. According to The New York Times, the company cited slowing sales, as well as the FDA’s intention to impose stricter regulations on all-metal hip implants, as factors in its decision.