Johnson & Johnson Guilty Again! Ordered to Pay $1 Billion in Putative Damages, the Largest This Year | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a Texas jury to pay more than $1 billion to patients who claimed the company hid flaws in its Pinnacle artificial hips that had to be surgically removed, in J&J’s second loss linked to the implants.


Officials of J&J’s DePuy unit, which makes the Pinnacle hips, knew the devices were defective, but failed to properly warn doctors and patients about the risk they would fail, the federal jury in Dallas concluded Thursday. The verdict includes more than $30 million in actual damages for the six plaintiffs and more than $1 billion in punitive damages, according to court filings.


J&J still faces almost 9,000 lawsuits accusing the company of mishandling the metal-on-metal hips. J&J stopped selling the devices in 2013 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration toughened artificial-hip regulations.


At $1.04 billion in damages, it’s the third-largest overall jury award of 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The largest, for $3 billion, came in June in a breach of contract case brought by Hewlett-Packard Co. against Oracle Corp. The punitive award against J&J was the largest against a company this year, according to Bloomberg data. Such punishment damages are intended to dissuade defendants from continuing sanctioned practices.


“The jury is telling J&J that they better settle these cases soon,” said Mark Lanier, who represented the group of six hip patients who sued J&J and DePuy. “All they are doing by trying more of these cases is driving up their costs and driving the company’s reputation into the mud.”


J&J’s DePuy unit acted appropriately in designing and testing the product, spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley said in a statement. The companies have strong grounds for appeal and remain committed to the long-term defense of the lawsuit allegations, according to the statement.


The verdict continues a losing stretch for J&J before U.S. juries. Six of the seven largest product-defect verdicts in the U.S. this year have been against J&J units, including three in lawsuits claiming its talc products cause ovarian cancer.