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PHARMACEUTICAL LIABILITY

DePuy/J&J Hip Implant Litigation

Medical devices are meant to improve longevity and quality of life. Doctors and patients rely on medical device manufacturers to provide safe, effective products with full disclosure of the risks and benefits so that doctors can deliver quality care and patients can make informed decisions.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives hundreds of thousands of reports every year of deaths, serious injuries and malfunctions concerning medical devices. Manufacturers that provide unsafe products to the public are liable when patients are harmed.

Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, DePuy Orthopaedics, have a long history of harming patients through their defective hip implants. The pharmaceutical liability attorneys at The Lanier Law Firm stand up to large pharmaceutical companies on behalf of innocent individuals.

Harm Caused by DePuy’s Hip Implants

DePuy/J&J’s hip implants were constructed with a metal-on-metal design, which, when rubbed together, could create metal shavings. According to the FDA, these shavings can cause the following issues:

DePuy/J&J marketed and sold a product it knew could cause these problems without warning the public. Below are just a few examples of the ill effects our clients experienced:

hip implant

Deceptive Marketing Practices

DePuy/J&J knew its products were harmful, but rather than develop a safer product, the company heavily marketed the product and deliberately withheld information from doctors and patients about the risks associated with using its products.

Fraud

DePuy/J&J failed to provide adequate warnings about its products’ risks and went to such lengths to conceal this information that one verdict found that this rose to the level of fraud. The court also determined the fraud was aided and abetted by the parent company, Johnson & Johnson.

Fraudulent Marketing Techniques

The aggressive marketing tactics employed by Johnson & Johnson and DePuy/J&J included the following:

hip implant

The Lanier Law Firm’s Successful Litigation History Against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy/J&J

2010 Recall of ASR-Branded Products

In August of 2010, Johnson & Johnson announced that two hip replacement products, the ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, were recalled after more than 10 percent of patients required corrective surgeries within five years of their initial hip replacement procedures. More than 93,000 patients had purchased these products, netting over $5 billion in sales in 2009 alone.

Due to the high volume of cases, the cases were consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL). The case was In re: DePuy/J&J Orthopaedics Inc. ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation (MDL 2197). The Houston and Los Angeles offices of The Lanier Law Firm provided national coordination for the case and represented 100 clients across 30 states and overseas.

2011 MDL Against DePuy/J&J

Thousands of lawsuits regarding DePuy/J&J’s Pinnacle hip implants were consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The case is In Re: DePuy/J&J Orthopaedics, Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation (MDL 2244).

2013 Removal of Hip Liners from the Market

These products had been sold from 2002 to 2012 until DePuy/J&J pulled the metal liners off the market in 2013. The hip implant systems were never recalled.

2016 Bellwether Verdicts in the Pinnacle Implants MDL

In two of the early bellwether trials, Texas juries awarded $502 million to our clients from Texas and more than $1 billion to our clients from California. Law360 reported that these awards included pain and suffering damages and loss of consortium for four spouses. 

These were later reduced to $150 million and $543 million. Mark Lanier, founder of The Lanier Law Firm, responded to the verdict as follows: 

“Once again, a jury has listened to the testimony of both sides and returned a verdict affirming what we’ve known all along: a responsible company would settle these cases and take care of their injured consumers, rather than forcing them through expensive and vexatious litigation just to delay justice. This jury spoke loud and clear, and I hope J&J will finally listen.”

In addition to Mark Lanier, the members of the trial team included the following attorneys from The Lanier Law Firm:

The firm also collaborated with two other law firms, including Ernest Cannon Law.

2017 Bellwether Verdicts in the Pinnacle Implants MDL

A Texas federal jury unanimously awarded a $247 million combined verdict in favor of six New York plaintiffs against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy/J&J for manufacturing defects, fraud and deceptive trade practices. 

This award included $90 million in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson and $78 million in punitive damages against DePuy/J&J. The verdict was upheld in 2018, with a final combined judgment of $245 million.

Case Settlements

Despite the overwhelming evidence against them, Johnson & Johnson and DePuy/J&J resisted settling claims and instead subjected the patients they had harmed to years of stressful litigation. Thanks to the large jury verdicts, they finally realized settling was in their best interest, though they have yet to admit wrongdoing.

2013 ASR Settlement

Bloomberg reported that Johnson & Johnson and DePuy/J&J settled the ASR Implants cases in 2013 for $4 billion (including legal fees) in the United States. This is in addition to similar cases the companies settled in India.

2019 Pinnacle Settlement

The Bloomberg report also revealed that Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay approximately $1 billion to settle more than 95 percent of the 6,000 cases involving the Pinnacle Ultamet devices in which doctors had to remove the implants. The Lanier Law Firm played a leading role in negotiating this settlement.

How are defective medical device cases proven?

Manufacturers of defective medical devices are liable when their devices cause harm and one or more of the following can be proven:

In the case of DePuy/J&J, two of the three criteria applied: the products were inherently harmful, and the company failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks.

a gavel and stethoscope

Who is liable for defective medical devices?

Anyone in the chain of distribution, from the manufacturer to the health care provider, could be liable, including but not limited to the following:

What is a mass tort?

A mass tort occurs when a large number of litigants have similar case facts pertaining to the same products. They are common in product liability cases, especially pharmaceutical liability cases. In an effort to provide efficient management of these cases and prevent them from overwhelming the court system, they may be consolidated into MDL or class-action cases.

What is the difference between a class-action lawsuit and MDL?

In class-action lawsuits, all the cases are combined into one case. Any resulting award is divided between the class members. 

In MDL, each case remains separate, but all the cases are assigned to one federal court. The court will select a few representative cases, known as bellwether cases, as test cases to determine the likely outcome in the remaining cases. This often decreases the number of cases that must be heard because the remaining cases are more likely to settle or be dismissed.

How to Choose a Defective Medical Device Lawyer</