The jury finally rendered a verdict today, in a hotly contested Johnson & Johnson defective hip lawsuit, being tried in California state court, Los Angeles. Johnson & Johnson (J&J)’s DePuy subsidiary unit was found liable for defectively designed metal-on-metal hip implant, in the first of 10,750 lawsuits over the device to go to trial.
The California jury sent a clear message today that Johnson & Johnson and DePuy put profit over safety by awarding Loren Kransky, the plaintiff in the California case of Kransky v. DePuy Orthopedics, $ 8.3 million for damages caused by Mr. Kransky’s implantation and revision of the recalled DePuy ASR XL hip implant.
DePuy ASR Public Health Disaster
J&J, recalled 93,000 of the DePuy ASR implants in August 2010, when it said 12 percent failed within five years. Last year, 44 percent failed in Australia within seven years.
“This is not an imperfect hip, this is a public health disaster,” Plaintiff Kransky’s attorney Michael Kelly said in closing arguments on Feb. 28. “Somebody needs to tell them, Don’t make Bill Kransky come to court. Build these things right. Don’t let this happen again.”
Beginning of the End of Metal on Metal Hips
Thousands of plaintiff patients have complained in court filings of dislocations, pain, and follow-up surgeries known as revisions. Kransky’s lawyers argued that DePuy failed to test the device adequately before selling it in the U.S. in 2005, hid and denied surgeon complaints of hip failures, and studied a redesign of the ASR before scrapping that effort in 2008.
J&J and DePuy aggressively marketed and allowed over 33,000 of these recalled hip implants to be distributed and implanted in patients across the United States, despite their knowledge that high levels of cobalt and chromium metal debris could cause a serious health threat for patients.
The Verdict Breakdown
Kransky’s lawyer Brian Panish had asked for compensatory damages of $5.3 million and punitive damages of as much as $179 million. The jury’s verdict, which came on the sixth day of deliberations, included $338,136 in damages for medical expenses and $8 million for physical pain and emotional suffering. There was no finding of gross negligence to support a punitive damage award.
“This is the first day of reckoning for DePuy,” Panish said after the verdict. “We’ve learned a lot from this trial. We’ll get punitive damages in the next trial.” According to a juror, David Vega, “I wanted punitive damages” based on the evidence that DePuy found the problem and took so long to resolve it.
J&J Appeal Planned
“We believe the ASR XL was properly designed, and that DePuy’s actions concerning the product were appropriate and responsible,” Lorie Gawreluk, a spokeswoman for DePuy, said in a statement. “We plan to appeal the jury’s decision on design defect depending the outcome of post-trial motions.”
The case is Kransky v. DePuy, BC456086, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County (Los Angeles).