In a two-month trial that ended on November 30th, the jury has found Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, DePuy Orthopaedics, liable for more than $1.04 billion due to their hip implant systems that shed metal debris.
The six-plaintiff bellwether trial verdict comes mere months after a jury ruled in favor of plaintiffs in a $500 million verdict, which was ultimately reduced to $150 million under a Texas legal punitive damages cap. This time, however, the trial is under California law, not subject to the same cap.
Jurors deliberated for less than a day before finding J&J and DePuy liable for negligent design defect, negligent failure to warn, failure to recall, strict liability failure to warn, negligent misrepresentation, intentional misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment.
The jury awarded $4 million plus medical costs to the single-hip-replacement patients, and $6 million plus medical costs to the double-hip-replacement patients, all of which required revision surgery to repair. Each of the six plaintiffs was awarded $84 million in punitive damages, as well.
During closing arguments, the plaintiff attorney pointed out to jurors that an $84 million settlement was made by J&J to put an end to the investigation that the company had paid kickbacks to surgeons. A defense witness, however, countered with the claim that the company wasn’t admitting wrongdoing, and that the money was gladly paid to “make a headache go away.”
“A headache?” said the plaintiff attorney. “$84 million is aspirin money to them.”
After the verdict was read, the attorney added, “The jury just gave Johnson & Johnson a bigger headache.”
The next bellwether trial is scheduled to start September 2017 with 10 plaintiffs from New York.