Judge Will Not Halt J&J Metal Hip Litigation, Bellwether Cases Selected

Disregarding a motion by Johnson and Johnson, a Texas federal judge chose not to stay trials over an allegedly defective metal-on-metal hip implant. According to Law360, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade selected seven bellwether cases for trial. The decision follows a recent $497.6 million verdict against J&J and DePuy. Law360 reports that the companies attempted to halt bellwether trials in late May, because they plan to appeal to the Fifth Circuit on a number of issues.

On May 24th, J&J and DePuy filed a motion stating that pieces of evidence introduced at the second bellwether trial introduced prejudice. The company cited “references to Saddam Hussein’s ‘henchmen,’ unsupported speculation that plaintiffs might develop cancer as a result of their Pinnacle implants,” and testimonies from individuals allegedly not connected to the case.

In March, a Dallas jury issued a verdict in favor of five plaintiffs, awarding $360 in punitive damages. The jurors found J&J and DePuy liable for failure-to-warn and design defect claims. J&J was ordered to pay $240 million and DePuy to pay $120 million. Additionally, $140 million was awarded in compensatory damages; this is to be divided among the five plaintiffs.

Due to a statutory cap in Texas, the punitive damages are expected to be reduced to $10 million.

The plaintiffs in the litigation underwent surgery with the metal-on-metal version of the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant. They alleged that the device caused serious health problems because the metal surfaces of the implant rub together, releasing metal particles into the body. Alleged complications included inflammation, bone erosion and metallosis (metal poisoning).

During the first bellwether trial in the MDL, the jury found for J&J. The lawsuit involved injuries allegedly caused by the Ultamet metal-on-metal hip implant.

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