Just a few months after Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy division were dished up a $500 million verdict over allegedly defective metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants, a judge has more than halved that fine. U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Northern District of Texas has determined J&J will only pay out around $151 million, Reuters reported.
Kinkeade noted that his decision was based on a Texas state law that limits punitive damages based on a specific formula.
In addition to the change in compensatory damages, J&J was denied the chance to set aside verdicts and order a new trial, as J&J felt the jurors became biased when presented with “irrelevant and unfair evidence” at the trial, Reuters noted. However, John Beisner, a lawyer for J&J, told Reuters he is still confident that the verdict will be reversed upon appeal.
This is far from the first problem J&J has faced in dealing with its hip implants. In August 2010, thanks to new information from the UK National Joint Registry looking at post-market data for the ASR hip implant system, DePuy voluntarily recalled ASR hip implants as it was "in the best interests of the patients," a spokesperson for DePuy explained in an email.
In 2013, DePuy paid out $2.5 billion to settle more than 7,000 lawsuits over the ASR device, Reuters noted.
According to Reuters, J&J and DePuy are facing around 8,400 lawsuits in regards to the Pinnacle devices. Those suits include complaints of friction between the metal components which in turn shed ions into the bloodstream. According to Reuters, this results in tissue death, bone erosion and high levels of metal in the blood. DePuy stopped selling the device in 2013, the same year it settled the ASR device suits.
The March verdict was the second of three trials involving the Pinnacle device, Reuters explained. The first trial, involving a single plaintiff, ended in 2014, with J&J being cleared of liability. The third trial involves multiple plaintiffs and is slotted to begin in September.
- here's the Reuters report
Editor's note: The fourth paragraph has been edited and sixth paragraph has been removed to properly characterize the nature of the ASR recall which happened in 2010.