Johnson & Johnson must pay $502 million in damages to five patients who claimed to have been injured by the company’s Pinnacle artificial hip implants. Specifically, the plaintiffs argue that Johnson & Johnson kept the flaws in the device hidden, which resulted in premature failure and subjected them to pain and multiple surgeries to repair the damage.
After a week’s deliberation, the jury concluded both that the implants were defective and that Johnson & Johnson knew about it and gave no warning—resulting in $360 million payment for punitive damages and $142 in actual damages.
This is the first verdict punishing Johnson & Johnson for the defective implants: there are currently about 8,000 lawsuits against it and manufacturer DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., and J&J won the first Pinnacle case back in 2014.
Johnson & Johnson does expect to appeal the case. DePuy spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley claims the company “acted appropriately and responsibly in the design and testing,” in a Bloomberg Business article. She also said in an e-mailed statement that “The product is backed by a strong record of safety and effectiveness in reducing pain and restoring mobility for patients.”
Although J&J claims their research and marketing was sound, the plaintiffs claim that both J&J and DePuy marketed the Pinnacle implants to be safe and durable without addressing any of the possible risks.
Specifically, the five plaintiffs allege that the implants leaked cobalt and chromium, prompting failure and subsequent removal. Further, Mark Lanier, the lawyer representing the five plaintiffs, accused DePuy of unsavory tactics in their aggressive marketing campaign like paying overseas bribes, paying doctors to promote the implants, and misinforming both doctors and consumers about Pinnacle’s safety.
This is only the latest in DePuy’s troubles with the device—the company ceased sales of the metal-on-metal version of Pinnacle in 2013, and in that same year paid $2.5 billion in settlements in over 7,000 lawsuits for a different metal-on-metal device recalled in 2010, the ASR.