They say justice delayed is justice denied. Apparently Judge Kinkeade in the Depuy Pinnacle Artificial Hip MDL thinks so. On June 10, 2016, Judge Kinkeade denied Depuy’s motion to delay all future trials until the company completes its appeal of a massive $500 million jury verdict.
Depuy Orthopaedics and its parent company Johnson & Johnson filed their “motion to stay” on May 24, 2016. They asked the court to delay all further trials in the Depuy Pinnacle MDL until an appellate court rules on their appellate issues. (It is very common for a company in any case to appeal a trial verdict when the jury awards significant damages to the plaintiffs.) Depuy claimed there were significant errors made at the trial. Depuy also argued that the decision in the appeal could have “far-reaching implications” on how future Pinnacle cases are tried. Defendants claimed the “grounds for appeal are strong” and that they “acted appropriately and responsibly in the design and testing” of the devices.
Judge Kinkeade, who presides over the Depuy Pinnacle MDL in Dallas, Texas, denied the motion to stay the trials. In his order Judge Kinkeade selected seven bellwether cases to be tried beginning September 6, 2016. You can read that Order here.
A “stay” would have created a long delay in resolving the remaining cases that are ready for trial. A complex appeal in a federal circuit court can take over a year to conclude. Judge Kinkeade apparently did not see any reason to delay other cases that are ready for trial.
Defense: The Pinnacle Ain’t the ASR
Depuy Orthopaedics has so far refused to negotiate a global settlement arrangement with lawyers for injured plaintiffs. Depuy has argued that the Depuy Pinnacle is not defective and is different from the Depuy ASR hip, which was a metal-on-metal hip that resulted in two large settlement agreements. One defense seems to be: “the Pinnacle ain’t the ASR.” Depuy has argued that the Pinnacle is not flawed in the manner the ASR was flawed.
Plaintiffs disagree, and thousands with the Pinnacle implant have filed suit for many of the same injuries that the ASR inflicted on individuals. Plaintiffs have argued that if Depuy refuses to negotiate a global settlement of the Pinnacle cases, then the court should fast track all remaining cases, as there are more than 8,000 cases remaining to be resolved.
Punitive Damages Award Sends Message
It appears the $500 million dollar verdict will be reduced in part. Texas law places a $10 million dollar limit on punitive damages, so the $360,000,000.00 in punitive damages awarded by the jury will likely be severely reduced. Still, the large punitive damages award serves a value for plaintiffs as it sends a strong signal that the jury was sufficiently offended by the actions of Depuy that it awarded a huge amount of punitives, whether or not Texas law permitted such an award.
Depuy and Johnson & Johnson are accused of covering up defects which caused the hips to fail. The hip component manufacturers still face more than 8,000 lawsuits concerning the alleged failure of the Depuy Pinnacle artificial hips. Judge Kinkeade’s Order was a victory for injured people and a rejection of unnecessary delays in the Depuy Pinnacle MDL.