Federal Court Enters $246 Million Judgment in DePuy Pinnacle Hip Lawsuit

Published on September 4, 2018 by Sandy Liebhard

Johnson & Johnson will have to pay a total of $246 million to six plaintiffs who sued the company over a metal-on-metal version of DePuy Orthopaedics’ Pinnacle Hip Replacement system.

According to court documents recently filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, these plaintiffs will receive individual awards of:

  • $43.7 million for Hazel Miura
  • $36.8 million for Eugene Stevens
  • $37.8 million for Michael Stevens
  • $39.8 million for Ramon Alicea
  • $39.4 million for Uriel Barzel
  • $48.6 million for Karen Kirchner

The jury hearing their hip replacement lawsuits had awarded the plaintiffs a total of $247 million, including $80 million, at the conclusion of a consolidated trial that was convened last fall. However, the plaintiffs agreed to receive a lesser amount, as private insurance will be covering $1.2 billion in medical bills.

DePuy Pinnacle Hip Litigation

The case was the fourth bellwether trial of a DePuy hip lawsuit convened in the Northern District of Texas, where more than 9,600 similar claims have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation before a single federal judge. (In re: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, No. 3:11-md-02244)

All of the lawsuits involve a metal-on-metal version of the Pinnacle hip that utilized the Ultamet liner, which plaintiffs allege was defectively designed and caused debilitating complications, including tissue death, pseudotumor formation, and bone loss. They further charge that Johnson & Johnson and its Depuy Orthopaedics subsidiary were aware that the Pinnacle/Ultamet combination was faulty and prone to early failure, yet neglected to warn doctors and patients of its dangers.

DePuy Pinnacle plaintiffs prevailed in two other bellwether trials, while one jury has ruled for Johnson & Johnson.

Bellwether trials are commonly used in multidistrict litigations and other large, complex products liability proceedings to provide insight into how other juries might rule in similar lawsuits. While bellwether trial verdicts can often lead to a global settlement of all cases pending in a litigation, Johnson & Johnson has not indicated any willingness to settle the Pinnacle hip claims.

Metal-on-Metal Hip Lawsuits

Metal-on-metal hips, such as the DePuy Pinnacle/Ultamet liner configuration, consist of a ball, stem, and shell made from a chromium/cobalt alloy.

In January 2013, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration warned that metal-on-metal hip implants were more likely to fail early compared to devices made from other materials. Patients were advised to inform their healthcare provider if they experienced any issues with their hip replacement. It was also recommended that doctors consider metal ion blood testing and imaging for patients who reported problems with the implants.

In November 2013, Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics announced a $2.5 billion hip replacement settlement to resolve claims involving its ASR hip implants, a line of metal-on-metal devices that was recalled in August 2010 due to a high early failure rate.

While the companies have never recalled the Pinnacle/Ultamet combination, DePuy announced in May 2013 that it would phase out sales of its metal-on-metal hips. However, the company attributed the decision to slowing sales of the devices.

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