Last month, a Texas jury awarded more than $1 billion in damages to plaintiffs who claimed they suffered injuries after receiving DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants.
Metal-on-metal hip implants, such as the DePuy Pinnacle implants, are surgical devices used during hip replacement surgery that have been claimed to be more durable and provide a greater range of motion than previous hip implant technology. However, after undergoing surgery using these hip implants, some patients have experienced inflammation around their hips and an excessive amount of pain. Other severe side effects that patients have suffered include prolonged regular pain in the lower abdomen region, hips, and legs; swelling of the legs and hips; difficulty walking; and increased levels of metal in the blood.
After further examination, researchers found that due to the construction of the metal-on-metal hip implants, typical movement of the body causes friction within the ball and joint area of the device. This continuous friction causes microscopic shavings of metal to be released into the blood and tissue of the patient, thus potentially causing the patient to suffer the aforementioned side effects.
DePuy Orthopedics, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary company, is currently facing thousands of lawsuits in which patients claim that the design of the product was conceptually flawed—leading to substantial complications—and that the company misleadingly marketed the device as more durable than alternative implants. So far, three bellwether trials have been decided, two of which yielded successful results for the plaintiffs involved.
In the most recent bellwether trial, a Texas jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and DePuy to pay more than $1 billion in punitive damages to six plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ attorneys in the trial claimed that DePuy wrongfully marketed the device, and failed to properly warn physicians and patients about its flaws. Upon appeal, a United States District Court judge affirmed the decision to hold DePuy and Johnson & Johnson accountable for the claims, but cut the punitive damages awarded to the plaintiffs by nearly $500 million.
While substantial awards cannot be guaranteed, the outcomes of these bellwether trials indicate that there is value in pursuing a claim for complications suffered as a result of a defective metal-on metal hip implant. The first step in this legal process would be to consult with your physician to assess any damage from a potentially malfunctioning device. If you have already experienced symptoms or side effects, or have had a replacement of a faulty implant, you should contact one of the experienced medical device liability attorneys at The Law Offices of Peter Angelos, P.C. to discuss the best course of action pertaining to your claim.