Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics Found Guilty in Defective Pinnacle Hip Implants Lawsuit – Ordered to Pay $1 Billion

December 3, 2016 – A Dallas jury has sided with six plaintiffs who blamed Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics for serious medical complications and necessary revision surgeries due to defective Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants manufactured by the companies.  In a massive combined verdict of more than $1 billion, it includes more than $30 million in damages for the victims and $1 billion in punitive damages.

“Once again, 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,” said plaintiff attorney Mark Lanier. “This jury spoke loud and clear, and I hope J&J will finally listen.”

Nationwide, thousands of similar lawsuits have been filed against the company that have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The verdict is the third bellwether trial, meaning it represents all of the issues in a mass tort case. In a March 2016 trial, a Dallas jury also sided with group of five plaintiffs, awarding more than $500 million for similar injuries.

The controversy surrounding the Pinnacle hip implant is its metal-on-metal design which allegedly causes the ball head and socket to rub together, causing corrosion and bone and tissue erosion.  Other, safer implants use a ceramic or polyethylene socket design.

The jury heard testimony which told of aggressive marketing tactics employed by Johnson & Johnson and DePuy which included kickbacks to surgeons if they used the Pinnacle implant over safer alternatives.

A fourth bellwether trial including 10 plaintiffs will be held in Dallas in September, 2017.

DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, MDL 3:11-md-0244

Pinnacle Hip Replacement Problems

The Pinnacle hip replacement is a total hip replacement system manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, DePuy Orthopaedics. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) in 2000, the DePuy Pinnacle Hip Acetabular Cup System was the predecessor to the now recalled DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System. The DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement is a total hip arthroplasty intended to provide increased mobility while reducing pain in patients with damaged hip joints.

Like patients who received ASR hip replacements, it appears that those who received the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement also face an increased risk of hip failure. This is because the two hip replacement systems had similar design defects, which can lead to severe pain, dislocation of the hip implant and hip replacement failure.

Although the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement implants were not part of the August 2010 ASR hip recall, they are also metal-on-metal devices, and therefore carry many of the adverse side effects commonly experienced by ASR hip implant recipients. Due to the defective design associated with metal-on-metal implants, as with the ASR hip systems, many recipients of DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement implants have had to undergo painful revision surgeries.

Hip Replacement

DePuy Pinnacle Hip Replacement Complications

Lawsuits involving the DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant alleged that the all-metal version is similar in design to DePuy’s ASR hip implant, another metal-on-metal device that was recalled in August 2010. The lawsuits claimed that the all-metal version of the DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant caused patients to suffer the same types of complications that prompted the ASR Hip Implant recall, including:

  • Hip pain
  • DePuy Pinnacle failure
  • Elevated metallic levels
  • Need for a second hip replacement surgery
  • Hip implant loosening
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Premature failure of the implant requiring revision surgery

Additionally, patients who received the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement implants should be aware of symptoms associated with metal toxicity, or metallosis.  The effects of metallosis can manifest outside of the hip region.  Therefore, individuals who received a DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement should be mindful of any changes in their overall health and pay close attention to any symptoms related to their:

  • Heart (chest pain, shortness of breath)
  • Nerves (numbness, weakness, change in vision or hearing)
  • Thyroid (fatigue, feeling cold, weight gain)
  • Kidney (change in urination habits)

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Sanders Phillips Grossman has been holding pharmaceutical companies responsible for injuring individuals by their defective drugs and devices for over 30 years. Defective drugs are pharmaceuticals with side effects that potentially harm, injure, or kill the patient to the point that they outweigh the drug’s intended benefits. Defective devices, such as faulty prosthetics, implants, pacemakers or surgical instruments can harm patients when the product is defective in the manufacturing process, design or marketing strategy.

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