Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary DePuy’s marketing push for its Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant ran "amok" as the company ignored warning signs that the devices were defective, a plaintiff’s attorney told a jury yesterday during opening arguments in the 1st of thousands of bellwether lawsuits to go to trial.
Johnson & Johnson told physicians that the Pinnacle devices worked "99.9% of the time" and treated patients like "guinea pigs," Mark Lanier, the lawyer for Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli, said in a Dallas court yesterday, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
"They didn’t tell people they were basically guinea pigs," Lanier said.
Richard Sarver, J&J’s lawyer, countered that Herlihy-Paoli’s injuries were caused by the position of the hips in her body, not by the allegedly defective design. She alleges that her dual Pinnacle hip replacements, implanted in 2009, were explanted in 2011 due to an infection caused by high levels of chromium and cobalt in her bloodstream, according to court documents.
Sarver told the jury that Lanier’s allegations about DePuy’s marketing of the Pinnacle device were a "smokescreen" designed to "make you mad," according to the news service. And claims that the company put profits ahead of patients was "utter and complete nonsense," he added.
The trial is the 1st for more than 6,000 product liability lawsuits Johnson & Johnson is facing over the Pinnacle implants in the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas, where they’ve been consolidated into a multi-district litigation supervised by Judge Ed Kinkeade.
In July Kinkeade shot down the company’s bid to dismiss the Herlihy-Paoli case and another bellwether suit and denied its motion for summary judgment. The other case, Lay v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. et al.