Johnson & Johnson has reportedly agreed to pay $1 billion to settle thousands of personal injury claims involving a metal-on-metal version of its DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary’s Pinnacle Hip Replacement System.
Nearly 10,000 Depuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits are currently pending in a multidistrict litigation underway in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas. The majority of these cases – over 6,000 – were brought by patients who underwent risky removal surgery following the failure of the all-metal Pinnacle hip that utilized the Ultamet liner.
According to Bloomberg News the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement settlements have so far resolved roughly 95% of those complaints. However, the $1 billion total also includes the settlement of 3,300 cases that was announced earlier this year.
Rather than negotiate a global settlement that would bring the entire litigation to an end, Johnson & Johnson has apparently entered into separate agreements with various plaintiffs’ attorneys to resolve their clients’ claims. So far, however, the company hasn’t settled any of the 4,500 Pinnacle hip lawsuits that involve devices not made entirely out of metal or that weren’t surgically removed.
Plaintiffs claim that microscopic particles shed from the all-metal Pinnacle configuration can accumulate in the area surrounding the hip joint, resulting in adverse tissue reactions, metallosis, pseudotumor formation, and premature device failure. They further assert that the Ultamet/Pinnacle hip suffered from the same design defects that forced Johnson & Johnson and DePuy to recall metal-on-metal ASR hip replacements in August 2010, and question why it wasn’t recalled as well.
Last February, Johnson & Johnson reached an agreement with 46 state attorneys general to resolve allegations that its DePuy subsidiary engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it marketed its metal-on-metal ASR and Pinnacle hip implants. And in November 2013, the company announced a $250 billion hip lawsuit settlement to resolve 93,000 claims filed in connection with the DePuy ASR hip recall.
Four DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement lawsuits have gone to trial in the federal multidistrict litigation since October 2014, where the first jury found for Johnson & Johnson. However, plaintiffs won the following three trials, with verdicts ranging from $247 million to $1 billion.
The trial court later reduced the $1 billion verdict to $543 million and cut a $500 million verdict to $151 million.
DePuy Orthopedics ended sales of the Ultamet liner in May 2013, after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced tighter regulatory restrictions on metal-on-metal hip replacements. However, Pinnacle hips made from other materials remain on the market.