Southeast Texas Record

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

$1B verdict against Johnson & Johnson reinforces 'need for appellate review,' says attorney

By Dawn Geske | Dec 12, 2016

Law money 05

DALLAS – A verdict of more than $1 billion handed down by a federal jury in a lawsuit regarding hip replacements only reinforces the need for appellate review, says one attorney.

In the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics, a federal jury found the companies failed to properly warn about the alleged defectiveness of their hip replacement products.

The verdict includes $30 million in damages and $1 billion in punitive damages. This is one of three bellwether trials that have been held about the companies’ hip replacement products. One of the test trials ruled in favor or Johnson & Johnson and DePuy and the other had a jury bring a $500 million verdict against the medical companies. The second case was appealed.

“The last two verdicts from the same courtroom perfectly illustrate the distortions and confusion inherent in multi-plaintiff trials and underscore the extent of the legal errors that have been repeated,” John Biesner, attorney at Skadden, told the Southeast Texas Record. “This verdict only reinforces the need for appellate review, and the company will continue to fully defend against the claims in this litigation.”

The two companies said they will immediately begin preparing post-trial motions to challenge the verdict returned by the federal jury in federal multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas.

For the latest trial, six individual cases were consolidated and chosen by the plaintiff’s executive committee in regards to DePuy’s ULTAMET Metal-on-Metal Articulation hip replacement. The hip replacement device allegedly required the plaintiffs to undergo a second or revision surgery to replace it and repair damage to tissues and bone erosion that occurred as a result of the device.

“We have no greater responsibility than to the patients who use our products, and our goal is to create medical innovations that help people live more active and comfortable lives,” said Mindy Tinsley, spokeswoman for DePuy in a statement. “DePuy acted appropriately and responsibly in the design and testing of ULTAMET Metal-on-Metal, and the product is backed by a strong track record of clinical data showing reduced pain and restored mobility for patients suffering from chronic hip pain.”

In the case, the jury found the defendants were negligent in designing the hip replacement and they failed to properly warn doctors and patients about product concerns. It was also found by the jury that Johnson & Johnson and DePuy were negligent in recalling the device and misrepresented its effectiveness to physicians and their patients.

“The jury verdict is not a determination by a regulatory body, governmental agency or other entity with oversight of the ULTAMET Metal-on-Metal Articulation, and it is also not a new scientific study or technical assessment of the safety of ULTAMET Metal-on-Metal,” Tinsley said. “The product continues to perform well for many patients.”

Both Johnson & Johnson and DePuy have filed numerous motions that say their ability to properly and fairly defend against the allegations have been undermined by the rulings. According to the defendants, they were forced to move for mistrial six times during the course of the case.

The companies believe they have strong grounds to appeal and are committed to a long-term defense of the allegations that have been brought upon them in these lawsuits.

Johnson & Johnson didn't comment for this article.

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Organizations in this Story

Johnson & JohnsonU.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Division