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Dallas Judge Cuts $1B Hip Implant Verdict to $500M

January 4, 2017 — An eye-popping $1.04 billion jury verdict involving the Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant has been slashed in half by a federal judge in Dallas, Texas.

U.S. District Judge Edgar Kinkeade decided the jury award was excessive and should be reduced, citing “constitutional considerations.”

All six plaintiffs were from California, so Texas state laws capping punitive damages did not apply. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that punitive damages more than 9X the compensatory damages are unconstitutional, with rare exceptions.

Judge Kinkeade did not argue with the jury that Johnson & Johnson and DePuy failed to warn about safety risks. He did not reduce compensatory damages for physical injuries, pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost income, or disability.

However, two punitive damage awards against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy were each reduced to about 9X the compensatory award, resulting in a total of $540 million.

The jury delivered the initial $1.04 billion verdict on December 2, 2016, awarding between $4 million and $6 million in compensation to six people who were injured by the DePuy Pinnacle.

Johnson & Johnson and DePuy were each hit with $504 million in punitive damages as punishment for knowingly selling a defective metal-on-metal hip implant. Pinnacle was pulled off the market in 2013, a few months after the FDA ordered new safety studies, but it was never recalled.

In March 2016, the first trial involving the Pinnacle ended in a Dallas jury awarding $500 million to five people who were injured, though it was later reduced to $150 million.

More than 8,700 Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits are currently centralized under Judge Kinkeade in the Northern District of Texas — Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2244).

All of the lawsuits accuse DePuy and Johnson & Johnson of misleading patients about the safety of metal-on-metal hip implants. The FDA has issued numerous warnings about the risk of metal particles grinding off and causing premature failure of the artificial hip.

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