Wednesday, January 4, 2017

DePuy Pinnacle Hip Litigation Update: Why Has Johnson & Johnson Not Settled These Cases?

January 04, 2017 - If you or a loved one are the recipient of a Pinnacle hip device, you may have serious concerns about the safety of that device and questions about how the Pinnacle may adversely affect your health. The Pinnacle, unlike DePuy’s ASR hip device, has not been recalled, rather it was simply pulled quietly from the market in 2013. This means DePuy and Johnson & Johnson were not required to offer any negative aspects of the Pinnacle, nor accept responsibility for the many injuries suffered by Pinnacle recipients.

 

Pinnacle Hip Device Trials

Although the first Pinnacle trial ended in a verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson and DePuy (J & J introduced evidence at the trial that improper positioning of the plaintiff’s Pinnacle hip device was responsible for the injuries), the second trial had a much different outcome. In March 2016, a Texas jury awarded five Pinnacle plaintiffs $500 million in damages. Among the expert witnesses called by the plaintiffs were: Dr. Albert H. Burstein, a biomechanical engineer and expert in artificial hip design, practicing orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Kearns, who performs more than 500 hip replacement procedures annually, and world-renowned orthopedic histopathologist, Dr. Nicholas Athanasou.

 

Dr. Thomas Schmalzried, who reportedly received more than $20 million in DePuy royalties, was cross-examined via video during the trial. Of course, DePuy and Johnson & Johnson also called their own expert witnesses during the Pinnacle hip device trial, and filed several motions for a mistrial during the trial, each of which were denied by the judge. Following this DePuy Pinnacle trial, U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade selected cases for the next bellwether trial which was set to begin on September 16, 2016. 

 

Texas Jurors Award an Even Larger Amount to Pinnacle Hip Device Recipients

The next bellwether Pinnacle trial ended in an even larger award to the plaintiffs, as a second Texas jury awarded six Pinnacle plaintiffs an astonishing $1 billion. Plaintiffs in both Pinnacle bellwether lawsuits alleged the Pinnacle hip device was defective in design, and was not properly tested prior to being marketed to the public. Further, plaintiffs claimed DePuy and Johnson & Johnson were aware of the risks associated with the Pinnacle hip device, yet failed to warn patients and physicians about those risks.

 

Following the $500 million verdict, DePuy and Johnson & Johnson asked that the upcoming bellwether cases be put on hold while they filed an appeal regarding the $500 million verdict. The court denied this request. J & J and DePuy also claimed certain evidence presented had prejudiced the jury against the pharmaceutical companies.  During the most recent Pinnacle trial, which resulted in the $1 billion verdict, J & J, predictably, presented two motions for mistrial, which were, once again, denied. Claims alleged against J & J and DePuy during this trial included: fraudulent concealment, negligence, intentional misrepresentation and conspiracy.

 

Why is Johnson & Johnson Refusing to Settle the Remaining Pinnacle Cases?

Following the two huge losses suffered by J & J and DePuy, many are curious as to why the companies are refusing to settle the remaining 8,400 Pinnacle cases. After all, J & J is spending millions of dollars on each trial for expert witnesses and attorneys who are billing between $600 and $1,000 per hour, in addition to the awards to the plaintiffs.  After suffering two huge losses, it would seem J & J would follow the path of the ASR settlement, however the company continues to maintain the safety of the Pinnacle and has vowed to appeal the Texas verdicts.

 

Meanwhile, Pinnacle hip recipients are suffering serious injuries from the Pinnacle, and many Pinnacle recipients have been forced to undergo a risky revision surgery. Just a few of the problems associated with the Pinnacle hip device include: pain in the groin, hip or leg, dislocation of the device, severe inflammation surrounding the hip joint, a limp or inability to walk at all, neurological, renal, thyroid, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular disorders, and even diminishment or loss of hearing and vision.

 

If you or a loved one have/has been injured by a Pinnacle hip device, or forced to undergo Pinnacle hip revision surgery, it is important that you first attend to your health, then look to your future by speaking to an experienced DePuy Pinnacle hip attorney.
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Author: Andrew Sullo
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Andrew Sullo

Andrew SulloAndrew Sullo

Andrew Sullo is a National Trial Lawyer's Top 100 Selection for 2013-2017. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice.

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