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After a trial in Texas this year, Johnson and Johnson was ordered to pay $502 million to five plaintiffs injured by the company's flawed artificial hips. The hips, sold under the name Pinnacle, leached metals into patients' bodies and failed prematurely, forcing the plaintiffs to undergo additional surgeries and endure more pain.
A federal jury was definitely feeling the plaintiffs' pain, considering that it awarded them $360 million in punitive damages based on Johnson and Johnson hiding flaws in the product and marketing the hips aggressively anyway. Let's look at the claims, as reported by Bloomberg News, and what this means to you.
This was not the first case complaining of Johnson and Johnson's metal hip product -- there are about 8,000 such cases filed reportedly, now consolidated in Texas federal court for pretrial procedures. But this was the first to succeed, as Johnson and Johnson won a prior trial by arguing that a surgeon had failed to properly place the hip in the patient's body.
In the more recent matter, all five patients had to have their Pinnacle replacement hips replaced surgically after they broke down prematurely due to the materials used and design flaws. The plaintiffs were awarded $142 million in compensable damages, apart from the $360 million in punitive damages, making for a total award of $502 million.
But immediately after the jury decided to punish Johnson and Johnson, company attorney John Beisner told Bloomberg News that the company will appeal. He expects the damages award to be reduced substantially. "The grounds for appeal are strong and the punitive damages will be reduced to around $10 million subject to the Texas statutory cap," he said.
There are thousands of outstanding cases filed against Johnson and Johnson over the Pinnacle metal hip. Interestingly, the company stopped manufacturing the product in 2013 after US Food and Drug Administration regulations were tightened. It's also notable that Johnson and Johnson already entered into a $2.5 billion settlement in 2010 over claims surrounding another of its artificial hips.
Although it is unfortunate that people have suffered due to the company's flawed devices, Johnson and Johnson's track record with replacement hips and the outcome of the recent trial indicate that if you have been injured due to a flawed replacement hip, your chances of recovery are very good. Of course, no one can say much about a case in the abstract, so you will have to speak to a lawyer about the specifics. An attorney can assess your claim and advise you on next steps.
If you've been injured due to a faulty hip replacement, or for any other reason, talk to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your case.
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