Dallas judge cuts $1B J&J hip implant verdict in half

J&J has been facing litigation over its Pinnacle metal-on-metal implants since 2014. It ceased selling the product in 2013.

Johnson & Johnson is catching a break as a federal judge in Dallas halves the $1 billion verdict a jury handed down in a trial surrounding injuries caused by the devicemaker’s metal-on-metal hip implants.

On Dec. 1, a federal jury in Dallas ordered J&J to fork over more than $1 billion to six plaintiffs who had reported injuries—such as tissue death and bone erosion—that they attributed to the hip implant’s design. The trial consolidated six cases from the more than 8,000 lawsuits J&J is facing over its Pinnacle Ultamet hip implants.

The Dallas jurors found that the implants were “defectively designed” and that J&J did not warn consumers of the risk.

While U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade upheld the jury’s finding that the implants had design flaws, he will slash about $500 million in punitive damages from the verdict because of “constitutional considerations” that curb punitive damages, Reuters reported. In July, Kinkeade cut a $500 million verdict in a previous Pinnacle case to $151 million thanks to a Texas law that limits punitive damages. But plaintiffs in that case are appealing the decision.

In a win for J&J, a jury ruled against the plaintiff in a 2014 Pinnacle case, in which she sought $1.5 million in damages.

Though J&J denies any wrongdoing, it stopped selling the implants, manufactured by its DePuy Orthopaedics business, in 2013, when the FDA announced it would intensify its oversight of artificial hips.