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Judge Decides Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Trials to Continue

Jun 17, 2016

In a multidistrict litigation (MDL) over allegedly defective Pinnacle hip implants made by Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., the Texas federal judge overseeing the case chose seven bellwether cases for trial. This decision came after J&J asked to stay cases pending its appeal of a $497.6 million verdict, Law360 reports.

U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade chose the cases to be prepared for trial beginning September 6, saying that the remaining cases in the MDL are on hold until after these trials.

In a May 24 motion, J&J and DePuy had argued that they were prejudiced by critical bits of evidence introduced at the second bellwether trial that consolidated claims of five plaintiffs. That particular evidence includes "references to Saddam Hussein's 'henchmen,' unsupported speculation that plaintiffs might develop cancer as a result of their Pinnacle implants," as well as lawyers and expert witness who have testified on behalf of a number of companies who have no connection to the litigation," the company said.

A Dallas jury issued a verdict in March, in favor of five plaintiffs, awarding $360 million in damages. The jurors found J&J and DePuy liable for failure-to-warn and design effect claims. J&J had to pay $240 million and DePuy was ordered to pay $120 million. $140 million was awarded in compensatory damages to be divided among the five plaintiffs, Law360 reports. The punitive damages are expected to be reduced to $10 million in compliance with a statutory cap in Texas.

Law 360 reports, the serious health problems alleged by the plaintiffs who underwent surgery with the metal-on-metal DePuy Pinnacle hip implants included inflammation, bone erosion, and metallosis, or metal poisoning. Metallosis is a "toxic condition allegedly caused when the device's components grind against each other and shed metal debris into the bloodstream."

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