A federal judge in Texas again slashed a large jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics over its metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implant, nearly halving the $1 billion awarded to 6 plaintiffs last month.
A Dallas jury in December found that the metal-on-metal pinnacle hip implants were designed defectively and that the companies failed to appropriately warn patients of the risks associated with the devices, awarding $32 million in compensatory damages and more than $1 billion in punitive damages.
But as he did with a similar, $500 million verdict in a previous Pinnacle lawsuit, Judge Ed Kinkeade of the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas cited “constitutional considerations” in slashing the jury award. Kinkeade awarded more than $4.6 million in compensatory damages and some $74.4 million in punitive damages to lead plaintiffs Marvin and Elizabeth Andrews, according to court documents; the judge reduced the jury awards by similar amounts for the plaintiffs in the other 5 cases.
“Although the jury awarded $84,000,000 in punitive damages from defendant DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. and $84,000,000 in punitive damages from defendant Johnson & Johnson, constitutional considerations limit the amount a plaintiff may recover in punitive damages,” the judge wrote.
All of the plaintiffs in the 6 cases have appealed the judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, according to court documents.
“Now that judgment has been entered in these cases, the company can move forward in seeking appellate review of the legal errors with the trial,” J&J attorney John Beisner told Bloomberg via email.
The lawsuits are the 3rd clutch of bellwether cases to go to trial of the nearly 9,000 in a multi-district litigation overseen by Kinkeade. DePuy won the 1st bellwether trial in the MDL, in October 2014. In July Kinkeade slashed the $500 million judgment in the 2nd bellwether proceeding to roughly $151 million.