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J&J DePuy Hip Implant Lawsuit: Dissecting the 1st Verdict

By Andrew Lu on March 11, 2013 1:51 PM

A California jury has awarded Loren "Bill" Kransky $8.3 million in what could be the first of thousands of verdicts against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for injuries caused by a metal hip inplant, developed by the company's DePuy unit.

Jurors found that the health care products company was negligent in designing the ASR hip implant. Kransky's award includes $338,136 for his medical bills and $8 million for his physical pain and mental suffering, reports Bloomberg.

Kransky's lawyers had also sought $179 million in punitive damages. However, jurors found that J&J did properly warn consumers of the dangers with the hip implant, and did not award any punitive damages.

Some notable highlights from this decision include:

  • 10,750. That's the number of lawsuits filed against J&J for the same problem with its metal hip implants, which were recalled in 2010. Kransky's case was the first to go to trial, and many of these lawsuits may follow.

  • No punitives this time. Though punitive damages were not awarded in Kransky's case, lawyers say they'll try again in the next case. Kransky's attorneys with the San Francisco firm of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger had argued that J&J was well aware of the problems with the hips but continued to sell them to pocket a profit. In fact, it was alleged that J&J explored replacing the defective hips before scrapping those plans over the high costs involved; all the while it continued to sell the defective hips. At least one juror in the Kransky case indicated that he'd wanted punitive damages in light of the length of time it took J&J to correct the problems.

  • An appeal is possible. Given the thousands of potential trials that J&J could face, the company has already stated that it will appeal the decision. The company stands behind its product and maintains that it was not defectively made.

As for the future of J&J, some may wonder whether this lawsuit may bankrupt the company. The answer to that may depend upon how the other cases are resolved and whether punitive damages are awarded. The company is worth roughly $200 billion; it has set aside about $1 billion to help cover the cost of these lawsuits, The Associated Press reports.

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