J&J slapped with $500M verdict in metal-on-metal hip implant cases

J&J's Pinnacle hip implant--Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) is facing a dark chapter in its legal saga over its Pinnacle devices. A federal jury ordered the company to fork over $500 million to 5 plaintiffs who claimed injuries from J&J's metal-on-metal hip implants.

After a two-month trial, jurors in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas found that Pinnacle hip implants made by J&J's DePuy unit were defectively designed and that the company did not warn the public about the product's risks, Reuters reports. J&J/DePuy still faces more than 8,000 cases in federal court regarding the devices.

J&J will begin filing motions to appeal "immediately," DePuy spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley told FierceMedicalDevices in an email.

"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," Tinsley said. "DePuy acted appropriately and responsibly in the design and testing of Ultamet Metal-on-Metal, and the product is backed by a strong record of safety and effectiveness in reducing pain and restoring mobility for patients suffering from chronic hip pain."

The latest verdict marks a low point for J&J, which has dealt with a legal storm over its hip implants. In 2014, the company scored a victory after a Texas jury ruled against a woman who claimed that Pinnacle devices made by DePuy caused her undue pain and suffering. The jury also denied the plaintiff's request for more than $1.5 million in damages.

But J&J is still dealing with the fallout over safety issues tied to hip implants. In 2010, the company said that it would shell out $2.5 billion to settle thousands of claims over its all-metal ASR hip implants. Last year, J&J said that it would hand over as much as $420 million to resolve claims over recalled hip implants, adding to its previous settlement.

At the end of the day, J&J will likely pay more than $4 billion to resolve all its implant cases, Carl Tobias, a product-liability law professor at Virginia's University of Richmond, said last year.

- read the Reuters story