Live satellite testimony has been permitted by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade for a trial in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) over metal-on-metal hip implants made by Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, DePuy Orthopaedics.
In Texas court, DePuy executive Pam Plouhar is scheduled to give testimony via satellite video, as well as witnesses in Los Angeles and Minneapolis.
“It’s a form of harassment. It’s court-sanctioned harassment,” said the co-chair of the life sciences and product liability practice groups at the attorney’s office defending the J&J and DePuy. “Courts and litigants have been relying on deposition transcripts and video for decades, so they’re not less reliable. They may be less interesting for the jury; it’s more interesting for the jury to have a live witness.”
But the lead plaintiff attorney is in favor of the controversial mode of testimony, pointing out that this isn’t the first time this method has been used. Remote testimony has been utilized as far back as 1990, and having a live video stream is more preferable than a “static videotape.”
Previous trials in which such testimony has been used include the 2006 MDL against Vioxx, with claims that the anti-inflammatory drug caused heart attacks and strokes. It was also used in the Actos MDL in 2014. A federal judge also approved it just a year ago for the MDL over Boston Scientific’s pelvic mesh.
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled during the Boston Scientific MDL, “Live testimony is preferable to a deposition, both because it allows for a fuller presentation of the facts and because it is more engaging for a jury.”
The metal-on-metal hip implant MDL involves patients that claim the hip implant design was flawed, causing friction between the metal socket and metal ball head. The friction led to shedding of microscopic metallic particles that causes bone erosion, tissue damage, and inflammation, the lawsuits allege.