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Johnson & Johnson is set to pay more than $4 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits over its recalled hip implants.
According to Reuters, the proposed settlement will "resolve more than 7,500 lawsuits brought against J&J's DePuy orthopedics unit" by patients who had to get their defective hip implant removed.
The metal implants caused many patients pain and discomfort as well as "increas[ing] levels of metal ions in [a patient's] bloodstream."
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been fighting these hip implant claims, and those like them, for years. The first case went to trial in January and didn't go so hot for J&J; the plaintiff was awarded $8.3 million.
In that first case, plaintiff Loren Kransky claimed that J&J's DePuy unit had not only failed to properly test the metal hip implant before it hit the market, but also actively covered up concerns from surgeons about the device.
Jurors did not end up awarding punitive damages for the alleged willful concealing of complaints, but the $8 million in pain and suffering damages was enough to send J&J a message.
After the loss in the Kransky trial, J&J may have re-evaluated its strategy in light of the 10,075 similar lawsuits which were filed for defective J&J hip implants.
Although only 7,500 cases will be affected by the settlement, if only three-fourths of the injured patients agree not to sue in exchange for part of the $4 billion payout, it could potentially save J&J billions in damages.
All settlements, prior to being legally enforceable, need to be signed by all parties and approved by a judge. Each party will also need to submit to the court that the settlement agreement was reached in good faith and fairly considers each party's interests.
This is especially important in large settlements, as there is a danger that some of the lesser-affected parties may not be exactly sure what they're agreeing to when signing. According to Bloomberg, the current deal would have J&J pay "an average of $300,000 or more" to patients for hip surgeries, and wouldn't prevent those currently with hip implants from suing in the future.
Bloomberg reports that J&J has spent almost $1 billion already in medical costs and informing patients about the hip implant recall.
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