Investigators close witness tampering investigation in hip trial

 Investigators close witness tampering investigation in hip trialAn investigation by federal prosecutors into possible witness tampering in a case involving allegedly defective Johnson & Johnson hip implants and has been put to rest just weeks after the device maker was hit with a $247 million verdict. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas said they didn’t see signs that a Johnson & Johnson unit’s employee tainted the plaintiff’s witness’ testimony in the case.

The issue occurred during a bellwether trial involving Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopedics hip implants The judge presiding over the case asked two FBI agents and a federal prosecutor to investigate and interview witnesses after the plaintiff’s attorney accused the medical device company’s attorneys of indirectly pressuring a plaintiff for the doctor.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Shein filed an affidavit stating that a DePuy sales rep told him days before he was to testify in court on behalf of plaintiffs suing DePuy that “there could be ramifications” for the doctor’s medical practice regarding his upcoming testimony. Shen said that the sales representative was clearly upset when he told the doctor that he felt he was being pressured by his employer’s attorneys to intimidate and influence the doctor.

Investigators interviewed the drug rep who revealed that he was inexperienced in such legal matters and had “built it up in my own head.” The drug representative’s testimony was enough to assure the judge that the matter was moot, and barred any word of suspected witness tampering from being heard by the jury.

Regardless, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff, handing down a $247 million verdict.

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