Third verdict issued in Johnson & Johnson, DePuy cases

By S. Laney Griffo | Dec 9, 2016

DALLAS -- Another verdict has been handed down in one of the cases against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics Inc.

A Dallas federal jury returned a verdict of more than $1 billion in the combined cases of Marvin Andrews, Rosa Metzler, Michael Weiser, Judith Rodriguez, Lisa Standerfer and Kathleen Davis ,who each filed cases individually against the companies, alleging failure in their metal-on-metal hip replacements.

Verdict in hip replacement cases   Shutterstock

“Johnson & Johnson and DePuy sold well over 100,000 Pinnacle, metal-on-metal ,hip replacements,” lead attorney Mark Lanier told the Southeast Texas Record.

The companies experienced issues with their product and stopped selling them in 2013. Nearly 9,000 lawsuits have been filed regarding the product.   Both companies decided they wouldn’t settle any of these cases, meaning all will be going to court.

“Their company is worth $72 billion,” Lanier said. “It’s not hard to sit on the money and delay. Why pay it today when they can wait two, three, four years and build interest on it.”   Lanier added that some key attorneys inside and outside of Johnson & Johnson believed these cases were winnable.

The courts decided to try the matter as multi-district litigation cases and have several bellwether trials because of the large number of related cases. A bellwether trial is when there are a large number of related cases, and the courts will select several to try. This gives those involved the chance to see if the case will likely win or lose and how they will try the litigation.

This is the third bellwether case. Each case has been heard by Judge Ed Kinkeade in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.  The first trial, Herlihy-Paoli v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. et al, was won by DePuy.

“In these cases, we argue there should be a safer alternative design, like metal-on-plastic,” Lanier said. “In this case the surgeon put the hip in wrong so it didn’t matter what it was made of.”

In the second trial, heard in March, the jury awarded $500 million to five individuals. The verdict for the most recent trial includes $30 million in actual damages for the plaintiffs and more than $1 billion in punitive damages.

There will be a fourth bellwether trial scheduled September 2017.

“After the next trial, we will ask that the judge remand these cases and send them back to their individual courts,” Lanier said.

Lanier is confident the plaintiffs will win this next trial and is happy with the message the jury is sending with these decisions.

“The jurors are telling the company they need to be responsible and take case of the customers using their products,” Lanier said. “This is the clearest message from a jury I’ve seen in a while.”

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