A Texas jury has decided that Johnson & Johnson must pay over $1 billion in damages to patients who were injured by the company’s metal-on-metal hip implants. The plaintiffs alleged that Johnson & Johnson covered up flaws in Pinnacle artificial hips, which had to be surgically removed from patients. The company failed to provide adequate warnings to both doctors and patients about the risk of failure. According to the injured patients, the company knew that the devices would fail.
The jury award includes $30 million in actual damages for the plaintiffs and over $1 billion in punitive damages. Whereas actual damages compensate plaintiffs for expenses they have endured, such as medical bills and lost wages, punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant for especially egregious behavior. Such a substantial punitive damages award shows that the jury felt that Johnson & Johnson’s actions with respect to the hip implants were deplorable.
Johnson & Johnson must still face close to 9,000 lawsuits that allege that the company mishandled the hip devices. These devices were no longer sold after new United States Food and Drug Administration regulations were implemented in 2013, which cracked down on artificial hip devices.
The plaintiffs argue that the hip devices leached cobalt and chromium into their bloodstreams. This caused the devices to fail, which eventually required surgical removal.
They also argued that the company rushed to put the Pinnacle hips on the market, and that it failed to thoroughly test the devices. The injured plaintiffs also alleged that Johnson & Johnson ignored research that concluded that metal-on-metal devices could cause harm.
The jury award is the third largest of 2016, and the punitive damages award was the largest entered against a company this year.
Mark Lanier, who represented six hip patients, stated, “The jury is telling J&J that they better settle these cases soon. All they are doing by trying more of these cases is driving up their costs and driving the company’s reputation into the mud.”
As with many large verdicts, the defendant company is expected to appeal the jury’s decision.
It has been a rough few years for Johnson & Johnson. Six of the seven largest product defect verdicts entered this year were against Johnson & Johnson units. Three of those cases argued that the company’s talc products cause ovarian cancer. In October, a St. Louis jury awarded a woman $70 million in her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. She argued that years of using the company’s talcum powder led to her ovarian cancer diagnosis. Another 2,000 women have filed similar claims. Because of the company’s losing streak, some say that Johnson & Johnson should settle its remaining claims, since juries do not seem to be buying its defenses.
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If you suffered injuries due to a medical device, you may be entitled to compensation. At Lomurro Law, we offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options. We help clients throughout the U.S. who have been injured by all types of medical devices. To schedule your free consultation, call 732-482-9285 or contact us online