Jury deliberations have begun in the first case to go to trial involving DePuy Orthopaedic’s Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants. DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, is facing thousands of lawsuits alleging the company failed to adequately warn patients that the implants can break down and cause metallic debris to enter the bloodstream. After a seven-week trial, the case went to the jury Tuesday evening. The nine-person panel continued deliberations Wednesday.
The verdict may set the stage for how J&J decides to defend or settle the almost 7,000 individual lawsuits that have so far been filed against DePuy and consolidated in federal district court in Dallas. Last November, the company agreed to pay $2.5 billion to settle approximately 8,000 suits by patients who had received another DePuy metal-on-metal hip—the ASR system—which was recalled in 2010. The Pinnacle system has not been recalled.
The bellwether Pinnacle trial began September 3. Plaintiff Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli,58, has alleged that metal debris from her Pinnacle implant leached into herbody causing 85 times the normal level of cobalt in her blood stream, resulting ininfection and surgical removal of the device. She is seeking up to $1.5 million indamages for medical costs and unlimited damages for pain and suffering. She is also seeking punitive damages, which the jury could award her if it finds J&Jacted with malice or engaged in fraud regarding its design and dissemination of the hip replacements.