DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Update: Nearly $250 Million Trial Verdict

Johnson & Johnson DePuy Orthopedics Unit to Pay $247 Million to 6 Patients

On November 16, 2017 a jury in Dallas, Texas, awarded $247 million to 6 New York plaintiffs who had received DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implants manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. The combined verdict included almost $170 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson. The jury ruled that DePuy knew the Pinnacle Implants were defective and would fail earlier than expected, but did not warn doctors or their patients. The 9-week trial consolidated the 6 New York plaintiffs’ claims in multidistrict litigation (MDL), which allows the claims to be tried simultaneously in front of a federal judge. This was the third straight significant verdict against DePuy and the fourth in a series of bellwether trials.

Years of Litigation

In 2011, the United States Panel on Multidistrict Litigation moved pretrial proceedings in all DePuy Pinnacle litigation to a U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas, which now has more than 9,700 lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson regarding its DePuy Pinnacle Implants. In order to speed up this lengthy and complex process, plaintiff and defense counsel have, together, selected several bellwether cases to be tried before a jury. Johnson & Johnson won the first bellwether trial in 2014, but the company has not fared as well in three subsequent trials. In the second trial, a jury awarded $500 million (later reduced to $150 million) to five Texas plaintiffs. Johnson & Johnson was again found liable in the third bellwether trial in March 2017, where 6 Californians were awarded $1 billion in damages. The most recent verdict raised the total amount awarded by juries to plaintiffs in the ongoing litigation to $1.75 billion.

Problems with Pinnacle

DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implants are a form of metal-on-metal hip implant used for total reconstruction of the hip joint. This type of implant was in the market from 2002 until 2013. The ball-in-cup system created problems in patients when the metal parts of the implants would grind against each other. This could cause a dangerous condition known as metallosis, which occurs when metal debris is released into the bloodstream. High levels of metal ions in the bloodstream, such as cobalt, chromium, or nickel, can cause symptoms such as:

  • Extreme pain in the hip, leg, groin, or lower back (even when not moving)
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Loosening of the implant
  • Bone deterioration

In addition to metallosis, DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal implant patients also face problems with walking, sitting, or standing; fatigue; and audible clicking or crunching sounds coming from the hip area. DePuy has since discontinued the metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants, but polyethylene and ceramic versions are still in use.

A Continuing Issue

This is the sixth year of litigation for Johnson & Johnson regarding its DePuy Pinnacle unit, and it does not appear that an end is in sight. Unlike with the DePuy ASR model, a similar type of metal-on-metal implant, the parties do not appear to be close to reaching a settlement. In 2010, DePuy issued a total recall for the ASR unit and agreed to a settlement shortly after.

Issues arising from DePuy Pinnacle Implants can take over 5 years to materialize. If you or a loved one has been injured by a Depuy Pinnacle hip implant in New York, please do not hesitate to contact Dreyer Boyajian LLP for a free product liability case review.


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