Posted December 30, 2016 | Product Liability
Lately, Johnson & Johnson has been in the news for their talcum powder products, which recent lawsuits have alleged cause ovarian cancer to develop in otherwise healthy women. Yet baby powder isn’t the only dangerous and defective Johnson & Johnson product to lead to litigation in recent years. In a product liability case earlier this month, the company was ordered to pay more than $1 billion – a record-setting verdict – to half a dozen California plaintiffs who were injured by defective Pinnacle hip implants manufactured by DePuy Synthes, a Johnson & Johnson company.
Hip implants are a vital medical innovation that improve the quality of life of more than 2.5 million Americans, according to figures supplied by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Artificial hip joints allow men and women who suffer from hip injuries, severe arthritis, and other joint conditions to move about freely, a task that would otherwise be impossible. Yet despite the liberty hip implants have afforded millions of ill and disabled Americans, these devices can also be rife with hazards. When compromised by manufacturing defects or, as was the case in this instance, design defects, artificial hip implants are capable of inflicting serious injuries.
The record-setting verdict was awarded by a federal jury in Dallas after jurors determined that the defective medical devices, which are made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy, suffered from design defects which caused six plaintiffs to be severely injured. Injuries sustained by the plaintiffs included bone erosion and tissue death (necrosis), which can be life-threatening without swift medical intervention. All six of the plaintiffs in the case were forced to undergo additional surgeries to repair the damage caused by the defective surgical implants.
The jurors also found that manufacturers failed to adequately warn consumers about the potential dangers associated with using the product, a type of product liability case aptly called “failure to warn.” These types of cases also arise when toys, appliances, car seats, and other consumer goods lack warning notices describing the possible hazards.
Further, the jury determined that DePuy and Johnson & Johnson failed to recall the product in a timely manner, and deliberately misrepresented the efficacy and safety of the product to both patients and physicians.
“Once again,” said a Texas-based plaintiffs’ attorney, “a jury has listened to the testimony of both sides, and returned a verdict affirming what we’ve known all along: a responsible company would settle these cases and take care of their injured consumers, rather than forcing them through expensive and vexatious litigation just to delay justice. This jury spoke loud and clear, and I hope Johnson & Johnson will finally listen.”
The verdict was comprised of a few elements. First, the jury awarded $30 million in compensatory damages, which is compensation awarded purely for losses and hardships suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Compensatory damages are awarded in all types of personal injury cases, including lawsuits involving medical malpractice, premises liability, and nursing home abuse.
In addition, the jury awarded more than $1 billion in punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the defendant has engaged in particularly extreme and egregious misconduct, because in addition to compensating the plaintiffs, punitive damages are also meant to punish the defendant, which is the judicial system’s way of trying to deter others from repeating the same misconduct in the future. For this reason, punitive damages are not always available, even in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits where the plaintiffs prevail.
DePuy and Johnson & Johnson have both denied the plaintiffs’ assertions, and continue to defend the safety and efficacy of Pinnacle hip implant products. Both companies have expressed intent to appeal, or challenge, the verdict.
“DePuy acted appropriately and responsibly in the design and testing of ULTAMET Metal-on-Metal,” said spokesperson Mindy Tinsley, “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.”
Another trial has been scheduled to take place September 2017.
If you, your spouse, or one of your family members suffered bone damage, soft tissue damage, joint infections, or other injuries after receiving a Pinnacle hip implant manufactured by DePuy, you may be able to get compensated for your medical bills and other damages, including the costs of surgery and hospital admission.
To find out whether you could have a defective hip implant injury claim in a free, friendly, and completely confidential legal consultation with an experienced product liability attorney serving Pennsylvania and New Jersey, call the Wieand Law Firm, LLC at (877) 654-3887 as soon as possible.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*