A federal judge yesterday slashed a $500 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics in the multi-district litigation over its Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant, cutting the award to roughly $151 million.
In March, a Texas federal jury slapped DePuy Orthopaedics with a $500 million judgment in favor of a quintet of plaintiffs who blamed the Pinnacle implant for their injuries. After a 2-month trial, jurors found that the Ultamet metal-on-metal version of the Pinnacle hips were defectively designed and that DePuy failed to warn patients about the risks, awarding $130 million in total compensatory damages and $360 million in punitive damages. DePuy won the 1st bellwether trial in the MDL, in October 2014.
Yesterday Judge Ed Kinkeade of the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas said he was compelled to reduce the verdict under a Texas state law limiting punitive damages according to a specific formula. Kinkeade also ruled that DePuy can’t delay the 3rd bellwether in the Pinnacle MDL; the company had asked the judge to give it enough time to appeal a $500 million jury verdict in the 2nd bellwether. DePuy wanted Kinkeade to pause the 3rd bellwether while the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit considers its petition for a writ of mandamus.
Mark Lanier and Richard Arsenault, lead lawyers for the Pinnacle plaintiffs, told Reuters that they disagreed with Texas’s cap on punitive damages but were pleased that J&J’s bid for a new trial had been rejected.
A lawyer for J&J, John Beisner, said that the company is “confident that the trial verdict will be reversed on appeal,” according to the news service.