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Hip damages: Jury tells J&J to pay another $1 billion

"Metal-on-metal" joints haunt their maker

A federal court jury in Dallas on Thursday told Johnson & Johnson to pay $30 million in actual damages, plus more than $1 billion as a punishment, to six people who said they suffered medical complications from a line of discontinued metal Pinnacle-brand hip implements made by J&J's Massachusetts-based DuPuy Orthopaedics Inc. unit.

Mark Lanier, lawyer for the latest group of plaintiffs, who are California residents, said in this statement that the punishing verdicts should encourage J&J "to settle these cases and take care of their injured consumers."

Since the FDA tightened hip-replacement rules three years ago, following reports of damage to patients as companies' "metal-on-metal" joints wore out, J&J and other manufacturers turned instead to hips with ceramic and plastic sockets.

"J&J still faces almost 9,000 lawsuits accusing the company of mishandling the metal-on-metal hips," Bloomberg LP reports here.  "At $1.04 billion in damages, it's the third-largest overall jury award of 2016," and the largest for punitive damages, according to Bloomberg data.  

In a separate settlement, J&J in 2013 recalled 93,000 of its ASR line of hip joints, and agreed to pay at least $2.5 billion to compensate users for metal poisoning, premature wear and other problems.

The recent case is In Re DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, MDL 3:11-md-0244