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$1 Billion Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson in Hip Implant Suit

A Texas jury recently ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay more than $1 billion in a product liability lawsuit involving its Pinnacle hip implants. The six plaintiffs are all California residents.

Metal-on-metal hip implants have been shown to fail at higher rates than other types, prompting warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and several product recalls. The risk for patients is that as the device breaks down, tiny metal particles may enter the space around the implant, harming the surrounding tissue. Some of the metal ions from the metal implant or from the metal particles may even get into the bloodstream and cause illnesses in other parts of the body, including the heart, nervous system, and thyroid gland.

In response to tougher FDA regulations on metal-on-metal implants, J&J stopped marketing the Pinnacle hip implants in 2013. However, the devices had already been implanted in an estimated 170,000 patients.

In the latest case, the plaintiffs suffered tissue death, bone erosion and other negative side effects. The jury determined that the Pinnacle hip implants were defectively designed. It also found that J&J and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit failed to warn consumers about the risks of the medical device. The $1.041 billion verdict included $32 million in compensatory damages. The remainder was punitive damages.

The case is one of several Pinnacle test cases currently working its way through the legal system. While the companies escaped liability in one case, another product liability suit involving the Pinnacle hip implant resulted in a $500 million verdict. In total, J&J faces more than 8,000 lawsuits.

If you or someone you care about has suffered serious harm due to a dangerous or defective drug or medical device, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation. Our legal team has successfully represented clients against manufacturers and distributors of medical devices for more than 30 years.