A Texas jury determined last week that Johnson & Johnson should pay over $1 billion in damages for defective Pinnacle hip implants. This could be this year's largest product liability settlement.
The verdict comes in the wake of several other major product liability verdicts against Johnson & Johnson this year, including one in July for the same hip devices, and may pave the way for more similar settlements in the future.
The company's DePuy subsidiary stopped making the Pinnacle implants devices in 2013 due to tighter federal regulations, according to Bloomberg. But thousands of lawsuits concerning the devices have been filed in recent years, and this verdict may be just the tip of the iceberg.
Plaintiffs alleged the "metal-on-metal" devices had to be surgically removed after causing bone erosion, bloodstream poisoning and other injuries. They also claimed the company knew about the product's defects but didn't communicate the risks to patients and medical professionals.
Johnson & Johnson have said they will appeal the latest verdict. In July, they were able to get the same Texas U.S. District Court judge to reduce a verdict in another hip implant case from $500 million to $151 million in damages.
Both of these cases are "bellwether" cases, serving as tests that could help the court determine the prospects for similar Pinnacle product liability cases. More than 9,000 such cases have now been filed against Johnson & Johnson. Another bellwether trial is scheduled for next September.