Last March, this blog reported that a Texas jury had found against huge medical manufacturer Johnson and Johnson and one of its corporate entities for marketing a defective hip replacement device, and awarded a large sum to the plaintiffs in damages. That case was one of several bellwether cases that had been consolidated under Texas Multi-District Litigation rules. Recently, in another of these cases, a jury in Dallas returned an even larger award against the company for the same device.
Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. manufactured a type of hip joint replacement that used certain parts made of metal instead of other substances, such as plastic or ceramic. Though the company claimed these lasted longer than their counterparts, plaintiffs in many cases have alleged that the metal actually caused damage to bone and tissue and caused them to have repeat surgeries to replace the parts and fix the damage.
So far, juries seem to believe the plaintiffs, who allege not only that the devices were defective, but that the companies marketed them aggressively even though they knew there were safer alternatives. The most recent award orders the defendants to pay more than $30 million in actual damages and over $1 billion in punitive damages. This is likely bad news for Johnson & Johnson as these bellwether cases are often representative of how other similar cases will be decided.
While it is unclear if this award will be appealed, such verdicts may persuade the companies to attempt to settle other cases brought against them regarding the same issues in an attempt to avoid such verdicts. Texas residents who have suffered serious injury due to defective medical devices may wish to look into how their legal rights can be protected.
Source: nytimes.com, "Johnson & Johnson Must Pay 6 Implant Patients $1 Billion," Reuters, Dec. 1, 2016