J & J Depuy ASR and Pinnacle Trial Updates
Below, our hip defect attorneys provide news and information about ongoing litigation concerning the DePuy Pinnacle Hip Revision System and the DePuy ASR System.
Breaking News: DePuy Pinnacle Trial $500M Verdict
We had some breaking news about the second DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip trial pending in Dallas, Texas. We received word the jury has come back with probably the biggest verdict in any hip case to date.
The verdict came back at $498 million dollars against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy. This case was brought on behalf of five individuals. If you look at the verdict, it was $498 million and approximately $360 million of that was punitive damages. The rest was compensatory damages for each of the five plaintiffs. The average compensatory verdict for these five plaintiffs was about $27 million dollars.
With respect to similar cases, that have gone to trial, this is by far the largest compensatory verdict. It’s also the largest punitive damage award to date. Many attorneys, including myself, who have been watching this trial are not really surprised by this outcome. The trial went very well for the plaintiffs.
The evidence that came out was shocking in regards to what DePuy did with the Pinnacle hip. There were lots of emails and internal documents showing DePuy actively tried to conceal problems with these hips from doctors. They engaged in nefarious conduct in terms of the marketing of this product. There were allegations that clinical trials were falsified, and advertising was based on these falsified clinical trials. A lot of doctors were bribed and given money to use this hip and tell other doctors it was a great deal. Some doctors received millions of dollars. One of the main witnesses received for the defense received over $7.5 million dollars in royalties from DePuy.
We have a verdict which is a positive development in the case for plaintiffs. Many have asked us, “What happens next?” I can tell you that DePuy has said they would never settle these cases. This was the position they took at the very beginning. They took the position that this hip was different than their other metal-on-metal hip, the DePuy ASR. The problem with not wanting to settle cases is that if you keep getting hit with a $500 million dollar verdict, you cannot keep that up. Johnson & Johnson has to face that not only was there a $500 million dollar verdict in this case, but also that there are 8,000 more cases. If DePuy keeps trying cases, and even if they win 90% of those cases, if they get hit with a $500 million dollar verdict (every one of a hundred cases), that’s a large problem for the company.
So, this verdict puts a lot of pressure on DePuy: shareholders will start to ask questions and they are under pressure to resolve this. The one concern we have is that Johnson & Johnson may have some hope in appealing this verdict and they will certainly appeal it. There were some controversial rulings by Judge Kinkeade, and they are thinking they can get this verdict overturned. However, the issue for DePuy is that this is a two-year deal. It takes at least two years for an appeals process of this magnitude. In the meantime, there are upcoming trials. Judge Kinkeade has indicated that he wants another five cases lined up for the Fall. This puts a lot of pressure on DePuy to come up with a reasonable solution to this problem.
The other problem is the defense costs. When you defend one of these cases, even if Johnson & Johnson wins one of these trials, they are spending millions of dollars on each trial. They spent millions of dollars on experts for this first trial. They have a team of lawyers who are billing them $600-$1000 an hour in the courtroom every day for 10 weeks. Those costs add up.
This verdict is very good for the plaintiffs. It definitely is encouraging and hopefully will bring DePuy and Johnson & Johnson to the table to compensate people with legitimate claims.
2014: Trial Is Underway Regarding Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Pinnacle
Tuesday, September 2, 2014 marked the first bellwether trial regarding the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant. As of yet, the device is not recalled but gained notoriety over several reports of side effects from design flaws and metal poisoning.
The DePuy Pinnacle, similar to its recalled counterpart, DePuy ASR, places patients at significant risk for elevated levels of cobalt and chromium in their blood. Additional problems with the DePuy Pinnacle may include infection secondary to metallosis, pseudotumors, severe hip pain, and other life-threatening complications. An internal memo via DePuy highlights concern from Dr. Thomas Schmalzried who foreshadowed the release of metal debris into the bloodstream.
Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli, a Montana resident, the first of the bellwether trials, claims the DePuy hips leeched cobalt and chromium into her bloodstream precipitating an infection. Consequently, the pain from infection required removal of the devices. Mark Lanier, Herlihy-Paoli’s attorney, suggests J&J knew of the metallosis poisoning from the hips as early as 2001.
Voir Dire (jury selection) occurred on September 2. The trial will proceed with a nine-member jury composed of five women and four men, including an attorney and a PhD pharmacist. Subsequently, on Wednesday, September 3, opening statements occupied the morning. In the afternoon, Andrew Ekdahl, ex- DePuy President, took the stand. He was head of marketing during key periods in question. Currently, he is chairman of DePuy Synthes unit’s global orthopedic business. Ekdahl implies this is a promotion from his previous position. His testimony monopolized all of Wednesday afternoon as well as Thursday, September 4. Trial is not held on Fridays.
On Monday, September 8th the parties are scheduled to question Polly Cary, Product Director of Marketing for DePuy, and Dr. John Abramson, DePuy’s Healthcare Policy/Information Integrity expert.
* The case is Herlihy-Paoli v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., 12- cv-3590, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).
2010: DePuy ASR Acetabular Hip Replacement Recall
On August 26, 2010, DePuy Orthopedics, Inc., a division of Johnson & Johnson, announced a worldwide recall of two hip implant systems – the ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System. The ASR™ XL Acetabular System is a hip socket used in traditional hip replacement. On the other hand, the ASR™ Hip Resurfacing System is a partial hip replacement system that involves placing a metal cap on the ball of the femur. DePuy has estimated that 93,000 total devices have been implanted worldwide.
In March 2010, the New York Times reported that for more than two years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received complaints regarding the high failure rates of the devices subject of the announced recall. In fact, since the beginning of 2008, the FDA reportedly received over 400 complaints involving United States patients. The FDA recently sent DePuy a warning letter regarding their knee and hip replacement devices, stating that the company illegally marketed unapproved medical devices.
Regarding the ASR™ XL Acetabular System, data now reveals that the five year revision rate is approximately 13 percent, while the five year revision rate for the ASR™ Hip Resurfacing System is approximately 12 percent. These revision rates are across the entire size range of the devices. The risk for revision is reportedly the highest with ASR head sizes below 50 mm in diameter and among female patients. The ASR systems have been under increasing scrutiny reportedly due to their metal-on-metal bearings which can generate debris from wear, in turn causing tissue damage and inflammation in some patients. In the fall of 2009, DePuy began “phasing out” the use of the ASR implant systems.
DePuy recommended patients implanted with the affected devices visit their doctors for an evaluation and monitoring. DePuy also said that it would pay “reasonable and customary” medical costs associated with its recall, including further surgery. However, this is not nearly enough to cover the significant expenses, pain and continued suffering experienced by patients. Patients suffered, and will continue to suffer severe injury, disability, lost wages, physical and mental pain and suffering, and possible death as a result of the defective implants – not to mention the effects felt by patients’ spouses and families.
According to an Associated Press blog, this is the 11th recall issued by Johnson & Johnson since last September.
Questions? Contact an Experienced Medical Device Recall Attorney
Kershaw, Cook & Talley, LLP is dedicated to protecting the legal rights of patients affected by the hip replacement device recall. We are prepared to devote our substantial resources through trial. Our expert medical lawyers represented thousands of victims of defective medical devices, dangerous drugs, and consumer products in cases throughout the country, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in recoveries for our clients and the classes we represented.
If you have a DePuy Pinnacle hip or a DePuy ASR system, and have questions about the trial and verdict, then feel free to give us a call toll free at (888) 997-5170 and we will get back to you immediately.