In the last three DePuy Pinnacle artificial hip bellwether trials, three juries awarded the following amounts of money: $502,000,000.00, $1,041,311,648.17, and $247,000,000.00. That’s a total of $1.79 billion dollars. The juries awarded plaintiffs compensatory damages (or actual damages) and punitive damages (to “punish” the defendant companies). Remember that these juries settled on these huge amounts of money based on their findings in three separate trials that DePuy and Johnson & Johnson were liable for design and manufacturing defects, that the defendants failed to warn plaintiffs about the risks of the defective artificial hip, and that defendants acted recklessly, intentionally, and even maliciously in marketing and selling the flawed DePuy Pinnacle hip. These last findings permitted the juries to award punitive damages.
In the bellwether trial in March 2016, a jury awarded more than $500,000,000.00 to five plaintiffs. On December 1, 2016 a jury awarded more than one billion dollars to six plaintiffs and four spouses. And finally, just two weeks ago, a jury awarded six plaintiffs (and four spouses) $247,000,000.00 in compensatory and punitive damages. Compared to the total awards, the amounts awarded to the spouses of the hip victims were modest, and appear to have totaled around $6,700,000.00.
Let’s do a little math:
Seventeen plaintiffs participating in the three bellwether trials were injured by the the DePuy Pinnacle artificial hip. Backing out out $7,000,000.00 for payments made to spouses, the total awarded specifically to the seventeen plaintiffs is $1.72 billion dollars. This averages $101,176,470.50 per plaintiff in the three bellwether trials.
I should write this a second time: for each plaintiff whose DePuy Pinnacle hip failed, the juries awarded over one hundred million dollars.
Now consider that more than 9,000 cases remain unresolved in the DePuy Pinnacle multidistrict litigation in Dallas, Texas. If each plaintiff remaining in the MDL were to win one hundred million dollars at trial, DePuy Orthopaedics and parent company Johnson & Johnson would owe more than nine hundred billion dollars.
I did a quick search, and it appears as if Johnson & Johnson is currently worth around 390 billion dollars. Obviously, nine hundred billion dollars would quickly bankrupt J&J.
Should every remaining plaintiff in the DePuy Pinnacle MDL expect to be awarded one hundred million dollars? Of course not. (And in fact, the seventeen plaintiffs who were involved in the three bellwether cases will not ultimately recover $100,000,000.00, because the judge has already reduced the punitive damages awards in two of those cases, which you can read about here and here.) My point is simply this: it is well beyond time for DePuy and J&J to come to the table and negotiate a generous settlement for the remaining plaintiffs and their spouses. These past three bellwether trials could not have gone much worse for the defendant companies, and the more bellwether trials that follow, the worse it may get for DePuy and J&J, which means the more money it will take to settle the remaining 9,000 cases.
If you have been injured by a DePuy Pinnacle artificial hip, give me a call to discuss your options (919.546.8788).