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Simmons Hanly Conroy Wins $502M Verdict for Patients Harmed by DePuy’s Pinnacle Hip Implants

Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder Jayne Conroy (center) along with firm associates Laura Fitzpatrick (left) and Holly Nighbert (right) in front of the Texas courtroom doors where they spent 38 days in trial presenting evidence that Johnson & Johnson fraudulently marketed its DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant product. The jury awarded $1 billion in punitive damages after 1 day of deliberation.

Case Highlights

  • DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implant resulted in an unacceptable rate of joint failure requiring revision surgery.
  • DePuy and its parent company, Johnson and Johnson, aggressively marketed the device despite known risks.
  • Lawyers for Simmons Hanly Conroy presented evidence during trial showing negligence by stakeholders at DePuy and Johnson and Johnson, as well as among U.S. surgeons.
  • The second bellwether trial resulted in a verdict awarding $142 million in compensatory damages and $360 million in punitive damages.

Verdict in Multidistrict Litigation Yields Massive Damages for Patients

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) brought by Simmons Hanly Conroy resulted in a $502 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in a bellwether trial brought on behalf of five clients injured by J&J’s DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. The jury verdict awarded plaintiffs $142 million in compensatory damages and an additional $360 million in punitive damages.

Johnson and Johnson’s Depuy Implants Have a High Failure Rate

The DePuy Pinnacle Hip Replacement System is manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The artificial joint device was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000, but had been used in patients as part of clinical trials prior to this date. The device features a ball-and-socket design and may include various surface materials, such as ceramic-on-polyethylene, ceramic-on-ceramic, and metal-on-metal. Within several years of FDA approval, DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implants were failing at a high rate.

Thousands of Patients Affected

As many as 180,000 patients have received Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants. The hip implant was promoted for use in people with smaller joint areas (femoral head <50 mm) and for its supposed ability to resist joint dislocation. As a result, women and younger patients are more likely to have received the Pinnacle device. Sadly, joint failure rates were highest among women, likely because smaller diameter implants are associated with the highest risk of failure. Joint failures resulted in an extremely high surgical revision rate, which meant surgeons had to replace the failed joint with a different device.

Joint Implant Failure Leads To Serious Health Problems

Failure of DePuy Pinnacle joints may cause one or more of several serious injuries to patients. As the implant fails, its metal surfaces break down and release metal debris into the body.

Failed joints may cause

  • pain
  • swelling/inflammation
  • stiffness
  • trouble walking
  • joint dislocation
  • fractures
  • tissue damage
  • nerve damage

Metal debris that enters the body is toxic for patients and can lead to long-term health problems (adverse reaction to metal debris; ARMD).

Depuy Orthopaedics Failed To Act, Willfully Mislead the Public

DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. is one of the largest orthopaedic companies in the world and is a leading manufacturer of joint replacement implants. By 2008, substantial evidence showed that metal-on-metal devices were failing at very high rates. That year, the FDA had received 400 complaints regarding patients with DePuy ASR devices, and the MHRA (the British equivalent of the FDA) found “evidence of genetic damage in patients with certain metal hip implants.”

As late as 2009, DePuy sent a letter to U.S. doctors stressing the importance of proper positioning of hip implants, while failing to address any specific safety issues. On August 19, 2010, the FDA publically criticized DePuy in a formal letter. While DePuy issued a recall on their ASR hip implant, a device similar to the Pinnacle implant, the DePuy Pinnacle device was not recalled.

In May 2013, DePuy announced that the company was pulling all of their metal-on-metal devices, including Pinnacle, from the market, but by that time the damage to thousands of patients had already been done.

Simmons Hanly Conroy Attorneys Lead the Fight for Patients with Defective Implants

Simmons Hanly Conroy was at the forefront of the DePuy Pinnacle multidistrict litigation. U. S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade of the Northern District of Texas appointed Shareholder Jayne Conroy to the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for the DePuy Pinnacle Artificial Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation. In addition, Shareholder Trent Miracle was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, Shareholder Paul Hanly as the Chairman of the Plaintiffs’ Discovery Committee, and Attorney Eric Johnson as a member of the PDC.

The Path to a Verdict

In 2016, Ms. Conroy was a member of the trial team that secured a $502 million verdict in a bellwether trial against Johnson & Johnson over its DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant. She served on the front lines during the nearly 6-week trial that consolidated the cases of five plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Dallas Division. Approximately 8,000 other patient plaintiffs are participating in the pending MDL.
Ms. Conroy presented ground-breaking evidence of instances in which surgeons lied about clinical results and forged consent forms for patients implanted with the product. Plaintiffs’ attorneys presented to the court several instances in which physicians misled the public about the safety and efficacy of DePuy Pinnacle devices. J&J paid doctors—the equivalent of kickbacks—to tout the benefits of these devices, despite clearly knowing the risks the devices posed to patients.

Monetary Compensation for Patients Who Were Harmed

This massive verdict provides compensation for the plaintiffs who have suffered immensely at the hands of DePuy. The punitive damages send a resounding warning to other device companies that bury important safety information, systematically mislead patients and fail to act promptly when their products are shown to be dangerous.

Contingency Fee Litigation Brings Justice for All

Simmons Hanly Conroy stands up to large, multinational corporations to protect people like you. We can offer this service by using a contingency fee complex litigation formula that, in essence, means we only get paid if you do. This contingency fee system allows individuals, families, and small businesses to seek a legal remedy in complex cases, even if they cannot initially afford the costs of complex multidistrict or class action litigation.

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In the News

The success of the second bellwether trial and the $502 million jury verdict drew attention from a variety of media outlets, including:

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The firm continues its work to secure justice for patients who have been harmed by dangerous drugs and defective medical devices like Pinnacle hip implants. Visit the Current Investigations page to learn more about on-going medical device and drug investigations. If you or someone you love has been injured by a dangerous drug or defective medical device, contact our legal advocate team for a free case review.

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