Johnson & Johnson fined $247M in hip implant case

A jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $247 million to six patients who received Pinnacle hip implants. The fine stems from claims the metal-on-metal hip implants caused tissue death and bone erosion as a result of flaws in their design.

J&J has now lost three Pinnacle legal fights on the bounce since winning the first test case in 2014. That losing streak has near and long-term financial implications for J&J. The juries in the cases J&J has lost have awarded substantial damages to the affected patients, with this week’s $247 million hit following initial sums of $500 million and $1 billion in the two previous cases. 

Damages in the two earlier cases were ultimately lowered—and Reuters reported that J&J will appeal the latest ruling—but the company still had to hand over $150 million and $543 million.

Those are big but manageable sums for a company of J&J’s size. However, these cases are the tip of the iceberg. Close to 10,000 Pinnacle lawsuits are pending in U.S. state and federal courts. The four cases heard to date will provide insights into the value of this larger group of claims and the sums that will be involved if they are settled out of court.

J&J is standing firm against the allegations, pointing to clinical data on the safe use of the implants. And the attorney who represented J&J and subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics in the latest case took aim at the legal process after learning of the jury’s verdict.

“This nine-week trial was a disservice to everyone involved because the verdict will do nothing to advance the ultimate resolution of this six-year old litigation,” John Beisner said.

The start of the litigation dates back to when the implants were still on the market in the U.S. J&J pulled the implants from the market in 2013 following the adoption by the FDA of new, tougher regulations on artificial hips.