A key trial involving five DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits has ended in victory for a group of patients who suffered serious complications related to a metal-on-metal version of the artificial hip. In a verdict rendered on March 17th, jurors hearing the case agreed that the implants were defectively designed, and awarded the plaintiffs a total of $502 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

The trial was the second bellwether in a multidistrict litigation now underway in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, that includes more than 8,000 similar lawsuits. At issue in all of the cases is a version of the Pinnacle Hip Replacement System that utilizes the Ultamet liner. Plaintiffs claim that defects resulting from its all-metal design resulted in an unacceptably high rate of premature failures, leading to tissue and bone necrosis, high levels of toxic metals in the blood stream and other debilitating complications that necessitated the removal and replacement of their artificial hips.

Pinnacle Hip Jury Award Second Largest This Year

Last week’s verdict followed more than two months of testimony and a week of jury deliberations. The nine-member panel awarded about $140 million in total compensatory damages and about $360 million in punitive damages to the five plaintiffs. In addition to finding that the design of the metal-on-metal Pinnacle was flawed, the panel also determined that Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy Orthpaedics unit failed to warn patients and doctors about its risks. The verdict is the second-largest jury award in the U.S. this year.

The litigation’s first bellwether trial ended in October 2014, with a verdict for the defendants. While neither verdict is binding on the Pinnacle hip lawsuits that remain pending in Texas, the outcomes of such trials are often looked to for insight into how juries might decide similar lawsuits.

“The defendants have tried six different arguments against people with failed implants,” the attorney representing the Pinnacle hip plaintiffs told Bloomberg News in the wake of the most recent verdict. “One worked — that the surgeon put it in wrong. The other five haven’t worked and won’t, because it is a defective product.”

An attorney for Johnson & Johnson countered that “grounds for appeal are strong,” and speculated that the punitive award will be reduced to comply with statutory caps in Texas.

Metal-on-Metal Hips

Metal-on-metal hip implants manufactured by DePuy and other companies have been the subject of controversy and litigation for years. A growing body of evidence indicates that these devices can leach dangerous amounts of toxic metal ions into the tissue surrounding the joint, as well the blood stream, leading to adverse local tissue reactions and other debilitating complications. In January 2013, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) decided to subject all-metal hips to greater regulatory scrutiny, in light of these concerns.

In May 2013, DePuy Orthpaedics ended sales of metal-on-metal hips, including those involved in the Pinnacle litigation.

Bernstein Liebhard LLP is representing hundreds of plaintiffs who allegedly suffered serious complications due to all-metal hips manufactured by DePuy and others. To learn more, please call 877-779-1414.

Published March 22, 2016 by