Earlier this week, we wrote that the first lawsuit to go to trial over faulty hip replacements was being deliberated by a jury. Today, it was reported that the jury awarded the retired prison guard $8 million for the damages he suffered after the metal-on-metal artificial hip began deteriorating inside of his body.
The 12-person jury held Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy liable for general damages, but did not award any punitive damages in the case. Punitive damages are awarded in excess to general damages and are intended to punish guilty parties for intentional or grossly negligent behavior.
Attorneys for the plaintiff had asked for $179 million in punitive damages from DePuy, so the decision was a victory for the medical device company. The jury’s decision was also notable because it could help predict the fate of more than 8,000 similar lawsuits have been filed against DePuy.
The medical device at issue in the case is the ASR XL hip implant, which was introduced on the market in 2005. After receiving many complaints of metal shards flaking off the implants, DePuy recalled about 93,000 ASR hips in 2010.
Soon after the recalls, lawsuits began pouring in, accusing DePuy of selling a defective product, failing to warn consumers of potential problems and overall negligence.
The plaintiff in the case that was decided this week received DePuy’s ASR XL hip implant in 2007. According to the lawsuit, the 65-year-old lives with pain every day because of the metal poisoning he suffered from the implant. His attorneys accused DePuy of playing “Russian roulette” with patient safety when it ignored complaints that the implants weren’t working properly.
Attorneys for DePuy argued that the man suffered injuries because of pre-existing injuries and told the jury that DePuy officials recalled the devices as soon as safety concerns were raised. It appears the jury agreed.
Source: LA Times, “Jury awards $8 million in suit over Johnson & Johnson metal hip,” Chad Terhune, March 8, 2013