Hi, this is Stuart Talley. We have some breaking news about the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip trial currently pending in Dallas, Texas. We received word the jury has come back with probably the biggest verdict in any hip case to date.
The verdict came back at $498 million dollars against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy. This case was brought on behalf of five individuals . If you look at the verdict, it was $498 million and approximately $360 million of that was punitive damages, and the rest was compensatory damages for each of the five plaintiffs. The average compensatory verdict for these five plaintiffs was about $27 million dollars.
With respect to similar cases, that have gone to trial, this is by far the largest compensatory verdict. It’s also the largest punitive damage award to date. Many attorneys, including myself, who have been watching this trial are not really surprised by this outcome. The trial went very well for the plaintiffs.
The evidence that came out was shocking in regards to what DePuy did with the Pinnacle hip. There were lots of emails and internal documents showing DePuy actively tried to conceal problems with these hips from doctors . They engaged in nefarious conduct in terms of the marketing of this product. There were allegations that clinical trials were falsified, and advertising was based on these falsified clinical trials. A lot of doctors were bribed and given money to use this hip and tell other doctors it was a great deal. Some doctors received millions of dollars. One of the main witnesses received for the defense received over $7.5 million dollars in royalties from DePuy.
We have a verdict which is a positive development in the case for plaintiffs. Many have asked us, “What happens next?” I can tell you that DePuy has said they would never settle these cases. This was the position they took at the very beginning. They took the position that this hip was different than their other metal-on-metal hip, the DePuy ASR. The problem with not wanting to settle cases is that if you keeping getting hit with a $500 million dollar verdict, you cannot keep that up. Johnson & Johnson has to face that not only was there a $500 million dollar verdict in this case, but also that there are 8,000 more cases. If DePuy keeps trying cases, and even if they win 90% of those cases, if they get hit with a $500 million dollar verdict (every one of a hundred cases), that’s a large problem for the company.
So, this verdict puts a lot of pressure on DePuy : shareholders will start to ask questions and they are under pressure to resolve this. The one concern I have is that Johnson & Johnson may have some hope in appealing this verdict and they will certainly appeal it. There were some controversial rulings by Judge Kinkeade, and they are thinking they can get this verdict overturned. However, the issue for DePuy is that this is a two year deal. It takes at least two years for an appeals process of this magnitude. In the meantime, there are upcoming trials. Judge Kinkeade has indicated that he wants another five cases lined up for the Fall. This puts a lot of pressure on DePuy to come up with a reasonable solution to this problem.
The other problem is the defense costs. When you defend one of these cases, even if Johnson & Johnson wins one of these trials, they are spending millions of dollars on each trial. They spent millions of dollars on experts for this first trial. They have a team of lawyers who are billing them $600-$1000 an hour in the courtroom everyday for 10 weeks. Those costs add up.
This verdict is very good for the plaintiffs . It definitely is encouraging and hopefully will bring DePuy and Johnson & Johnson to the table to compensate people with legitimate claims. If you have a DePuy Pinnacle hip, and have questions about the trial and verdict, feel free to give us a call toll free at 888-997-5170 and we will get back to you immediately. Thank you.