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In the first of nearly 11,000 DePuy defective hip replacement lawsuits to go to trial, a California jury found that Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy division defectively designed its ASR hip implants.

After deliberating more than five days, the jury awarded a total of $8.3 million in compensatory damages to a retired prison guard from Montana as a result of injuries caused by the design of the DePuy ASR XL hip implant. The award included $338,136 for medical expenses and $8 million for pain and suffering. The jury determined that the manufacturer had adequately warned of risks and therefore did not award punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages.

Erik Gordon, a business professor at University of Michigan, said that the verdict set a “starting price” for settlement negotiations for other plaintiffs. “Most plaintiffs will get more sympathy from jurors than (the plaintiff) elicited. A jury somewhere is going to hit the company with huge punitive damages to send a message that J&J refuses to hear.”

The California plaintiff testified that he experienced constant “stabbing” pain, couldn’t walk, had to use a wheelchair and believed that he was being poisoned from chromium and cobalt debris from the hip implant. The plaintiff’s attorney argued that DePuy failed to adequately test the implant before marketing it in the U.S. in 2005, concealed surgeons’ complaints of increasing failures and studied a reconfiguration of the ASR before abandoning that effort in 2008.

Approximately 93,000 DePuy ASR hip implants were recalled in August 2010 after it was determined that 12 percent of the implants failed within 5 years. In 2012, an Australian study reported that 44 percent of the implants failed within seven years. Experts believe that the thousands of lawsuits could cost Johnson & Johnson billions of dollars in settlements and verdicts.

Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest manufacturer of health care products, plans to appeal the California verdict.

A second case is set for trial on March 11 in Chicago, Illinois.

Our clients include many who have been adversely affected by defective hip replacements, including those manufactured by DePuy. More information about the DePuy Hip implant is available on our web site.

“J&J Must Pay $8.3 Million Over Defective Hip, Jury Says” Bloomberg, March 8, 2013