Plaintiffs in DePuy Pinnacle Litigation Say J&J Lied about Hip Implant Safety

On the first day of the third bellwether trial over the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal implants, jurors heard arguments that DePuy and parent company Johnson & Johnson deceived physicians and patients about the safety of the hip device. The company allegedly misrepresented the risks of the device and heavily marketed it for financial gain, plaintiffs argue.

In the 2000s, J&J sold 150,000 metal-on-metal hip implants, Law30 reports. The Pinnacle hip implant cited in the lawsuit is the Ultamet version, meaning it uses a metal liner within the hip socket. Because all of its contacting surfaces are metal, it is a type of metal-on-metal hip implant, a category of devices that has come under scrutiny due to high-profile recalls and lawsuits.

All-metal hip implants can lead to complications such as early failure, prompting the need for revision surgery to remove the implant, when they shed metal debris into the body. The six plaintiffs suing J&J all underwent these revision surgeries after being implanted with the Pinnacle. They allege that J&J knew the device presented these risks, but failed to warn the medical community.

Law360 reports that there are over 8,500 similar lawsuits in the multidistrict litigation underway in Texas. An earlier bellwether case resulted in a $500 million verdict for the plaintiffs. That award was reduced to $150 million under Texas law on punitive damages cap. Plaintiffs are hoping for a similar outcome here with one key difference: the trial is using California law, which does not have a cap.

Attorneys for the plaintiff argued that DePuy was able to get the all-metal Pinnacle hip implant onto the market without any sufficient testing for safety or efficacy due to a regulatory loophole. Other versions of the Pinnacle use a plastic or ceramic liner.

Jurors also heard that J&J touted a 99.9 percent success rate, but attorneys for the plaintiff say that statistic is misleading because it only applies to one of the Pinnacle’s four components. Plaintiffs argued that the real success rate is only 53 percent after 11 years.

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