December of 2016 was a month to celebrate for victims of the DePuy Orthopedics (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) Pinnacle hip implants. A federal jury in Texas returned a verdict that leaves the company on the hook for over $1 billion dollars, to be paid to patients who suffered from these dangerous or otherwise defective medical devices. Though appeals are most likely on the way, it’s a stunning victory for those who have been injured by these failed implants, and paves the way for the thousands of other patients who have suffered to finally receive the compensation that they deserve.
MDL and Bellwether Trials Over Hip Implants
To date, over 8,500 lawsuits have been filed over DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implant system. These cases were subsequently consolidated in federal court in a process called multidistrict litigation (MDL). This kind of consolidation is becoming increasingly common to prevent the court system from being completely overwhelmed with many identical cases. It can drastically reduce the burden on the courts while providing fair outcomes much more quickly than would be the case if every single case had a separate trial.
When a MDL is created, one or more lawsuits will be chosen as “bellwether” trials. The specific lawsuits chosen to be bellwether cases are picked carefully to be fully representative of all cases involved in the MDL. The outcome of the bellwether cases will then be used to determine how the remainder of the cases in the MDL will be handled by the court.
December’s bellwether trial against DePuy found that the company not only knew that the products were defective, but failed to inform consumers or doctors about the risks of device failure. The jury returned an award of $30 million in actual damages and a stunning $1 billion in punitive damages against the company, making this the number three contender for largest jury awards of the year. Another bellwether trial is scheduled to take place in Texas in late 2017.
The plaintiffs in the MDL and the bellwether case have several allegations against DePuy, including that the Pinnacle hip implant is defective by design, and that the company failed to perform necessary safety testing before rushing an unsafe product to market. The lawsuits also allege that the Pinnacle hip implant causes a condition called metallosis. Pinnacle hip implants are made of chromium and titanium, both of which have been linked to the condition.
Metallosis is a rare but very serious condition caused by metallic splinters, dust, or debris seeping into the blood or other soft tissue. The Pinnacle implant’s metal-on-metal design is believed to result in this kind of metallic shedding in the body. The metal causes the tissue to sicken, leading to severe health issues and potentially life-threatening infections. Metallosis can cause symptoms such as the following:
- Severe pain at the implant site
- Soft issue death (necrosis)
- Bone deterioration
- Osteolysis or bone death
- Partial or total implant failure or implant loosening
- Painful headaches
- Cognitive issues and emotional disturbances
- Other symptoms of metal poisoning
Heart problems, hearing loss, vision loss, depression, and anxiety are a few of the other symptoms associated with metallosis, and it can take patients years to recover—and full recovery is no guarantee.
Get Legal Help Today
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strengthened regulations on hip implants in 2013, and DePuy subsequently took the Pinnacle hip implant off the market. However, the damage has been done, and continues to be done, to patients still carrying this brand of implant inside their bodies. It’s important that patients who are suffering the effects of faulty medical devices step forward and take these companies to task for their greed.
Have you suffered harm that was caused by a Depuy Orthopedics Pinnacle hip implant? If so, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. We take pride in standing up for the rights of patients who have been victimized by the wrongdoing of medical devices and pharmaceutical companies. You don’t have to suffer in silence. It’s your legal right to pursue fair compensation in the court of law for the cost of your medical bills, rehabilitation, lost time and wages, and more. Reach out today by calling 800-237-3334 for a free consultation about your potential hip replacement lawsuit.