A Dallas jury has ordered DePuy Orthopaedics to pay compensatory and punitive damages to five victims who received defective hip implants.
The jury deliberated for nearly six days before ordering the medical device maker – which is a division of Johnson & Johnson – to pay $142 million in actual and $360 million in punitive damages. Lawyers for the five victims, one of whom is from Boerne, argued that the Metal-on-Metal (MoM) artificial hips were defectively designed, causing premature failure and intense pain. Furthermore, according to court documents, DePuy knew about problems with its Pinnacle and Ultamet implants, yet failed to warn patients or doctors due to the risk of decreased sales. DePuy and other hip implant makers have consistently denied that their products are unsafe. About 8,900 defective hip implant cases have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas, and plaintiffs expect the next trial to begin this fall.
In October 2014, a separate jury determined that DePuy was not negligent under similar facts.
Like the hip itself, MoM devices are ball-and-cup joints, but the artificial implants have all-metal parts. DePuy and other makers touted these devices as long-lasting alternatives to earlier Plastic-on-Metal (PoM) devices. Whereas the plastic cups wore out, the gadget makers promised that the all-metal implants were much more durable.
But with every step the patient takes, friction shaves off microscopic metal fragments. Over time, these fragment build up and cause metallosis, or metal poisoning. Surrounding tissues become inflamed as the body tried to fight the infection, causing severe pain. Eventually, the device dislodges, causing even more pain, along with loss of mobility. In some cases, the metal travels through the bloodstream to internal organs, like the heart and lungs.
The thousands of hip implant lawsuits all claim that the hip implants were defective products. To recover money in these cases, the plaintiff must show a:
- Design Defect: Hip implant plaintiffs claim that the devices were never safe due to the inherent risk of metallosis; in some jurisdictions, the plaintiff must also prove that there was a reasonable alternative design;
- Manufacturing Defect: Particularly where medical devices are concerned, an off-center screw hole or slightly misshapen edge will frequently cause serious injury; or
- Failure to Warn: Many product makers put profits before people, refusing to warn customers about known risks so as to increase sales.
In addition to economic and noneconomic damages, juries often make substantial punitive damage awards in these cases.
Defective products cause serious injuries to thousands of people. For prompt assistance in this area, contact an experienced defective products attorney in New Braunfels. You have a limited amount of time to act.