By John W. Scanlan, J.D.
A more than $1 billion jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics in six cases that were part of multi-district litigation involving the Pinnacle hip implant system has been significantly reduced by the MDL court due to constitutional limitations on punitive damages. The awards for compensatory damages remain unchanged (Andrews v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Davis v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Metzler v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Rodriguez v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Standerfer v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Weiser v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., January 3, 2017, Kinkeade, E.).
The six patients underwent their original surgeries from 2005 through 2010 using a "metal on metal" implant; each required revision surgeries between 2012 and 2015 to replace the implant with a "ceramic on polyethylene" implant. The patients, along with four spouses, brought suit against DePuy Orthopaedics and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson. The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs on multiple claims and awarded each of the six patients their past medical expenses, either $4 million or $6 million in compensatory damages, and $84 million each in punitive damages from both DePuy and Johnson & Johnson. Each of the four spouses were awarded $1 million for past and future loss of consortium and $125,000 in punitive damages from both companies [see Products Liability Law Daily’s December 2, 2016 analysis].
Punitive damages. The $84 million in punitive damages awarded by the jury to each of the six patients from both DePuy and Johnson & Johnson were reduced to between $36 and $37 million for four of the patients and about $54.5 million from each company for the remaining two patients. The court reduced the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to single-digit levels, observing that few awards that exceed a single-digit ratio satisfy due process.
The court did not alter the punitive damage awards to the four spouses, nor did it alter the compensatory damage awards to either the patients or the spouses.
Attorneys: Jayne Conroy (Simmons Hanly Conroy, LLC) for Marvin Andrews, Kathleen Davis, Rosa Metzler, Judith Rodriguez, Linda Standerfer and Michael Weiser. Michael V. Powell (Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP) and Jessica D. Miller (Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP) for DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., DePuy Products Inc., DePuy International Ltd. and Johnson & Johnson Services Inc.
Companies: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc.; DePuy Products Inc.; DePuy International Ltd.; Johnson & Johnson Services Inc.
MainStory: TopStory DamagesNews MedicalDevicesNews TexasNews
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