Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), which set aside $2.5 billion last year to resolve claims that 8,000 of its artificial hips were defective, faces a new round of lawsuits over another line of hip implants blamed for poisoning patients.
J&J’s DePuy unit is starting its first trial of allegations that the metal-on-metal version of the Pinnacle hip was defectively designed and caused metal debris to leech into patients’ bloodstreams. The cobalt-and-chromium material caused an infection that forced Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli to have her artificial hips surgically removed, she said in court filings.
Jury selection began today in Herlihy-Paoli’s suit, the first of more than 6,000 cases over the devices to be weighed by a jury. The cases have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas for pretrial information exchanges. Kinkeade will preside over Herlihy-Paoli’s trial.
“The first trials in any of these consolidated litigations set the tone for the following cases,” Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, said in an interview. “If J&J loses the first couple of these Pinnacle trials, they better start seriously thinking about coming up with a settlement similar to what they signed off on for the ASR hips.”
J&J said studies have shown the Pinnacle Ultamet line of devices restores mobility and reduces pain for patients in need of hip replacement.
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