Six people who sued over injuries from DePuy Orthopaedics hip replacements will split a $245 million judgment. Individual awards will range from $36 million to more than $48 million.
A federal judge in Texas entered the final judgment August 29, — nine months after a jury returned a $247 million verdict in their case. The plaintiffs agreed to the slightly smaller amount after private insurance agreed to cover $1.2 million of their medical expenses.
Thousands of DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement lawsuits are still pending in federal court.
The people who sued had claimed DePuy Orthopaedics and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, knew Pinnacle hips were defective. The companies never issued a major Pinnacle hip replacement recall, but quietly phased out the model blamed for injuries in the lawsuits.
The devices were a metal-on-metal design. They formed an artificial hip joint with a metal ball in a metal socket or cup. Movement in the joint released microscopic metallic ions. These caused serious hip replacement complications that could damage bone and muscle and lead to the implant’s failure.
The six people in the Texas case received different amounts of the judgment. The individual amounts were based on the number and extent of their specific injuries. Injuries included past and future medical expenses as well as pain and suffering.
|Karen Kirschner||$48.6 million|
|Hazel Miura||$43.7 million|
|Ureil Barzel||$39.2 million|
|Ramon Alicea||$38.9 million|
|Michael Stevens||$37.8 million|
|Eugene Stevens||$36.8 million|
The bulk of the original jury award came in the form of $90 million in punitive damages. That is money a jury may award to punish a defendant. Juries award punitive damages if they decide a defendant’s actions were especially harmful. The judge did not alter this amount.
The jury awarded $77 million for damages to the patients who received Pinnacle hip implants. The insurance payments reduced this by $1.2 million.
The jury also awarded four of the patients’ spouses a total of $1.7 million for loss of consortium. That is a legal term for people denied the benefits of a family relationship due to their injuries.
The August judgment follows a jury verdict for the six plaintiffs in November 2017. The trial was part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving more than 9,600 Pinnacle hip replacement lawsuits. MDLs allow federal courts to combine several similar hip replacement lawsuits for efficiency.
This case was the fourth bellwether trial in the MDL. Bellwethers are test cases that can gauge arguments on both sides. Their outcomes can lead people to drop lawsuits or they can help shape court settlements.
After DePuy won the first bellwether in 2014, juries have sided with the people claiming injuries in the last three. Verdicts have totaled more than $1.7 billion. But appeals have reduced the total to around $938 million.
DePuy and Johnson & Johnson are expected to appeal the latest judgment.
The MDL has been underway since May 2011.
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