Monday, March 11, 2013

DePuy to pay $8.3M in first hip implant trial.

NBC Nightly News (3/8, story 10, 0:30, Williams, 7.86M) reported, "A jury in Los Angeles today awarded $8.3 million to a man who accused a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson of knowingly marketing a faulty hip implant that was later recalled. It was the first of an avalanche of lawsuits."

        On the front page of its Business Day section, the New York Times (3/9, B1, Meier, Subscription Publication, 1.68M) reported, "A jury in Los Angeles on Friday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay more than $8.3 million in damages to a Montana man in the first of more than 10,000 lawsuits pending against the medical products maker in connection" with its Articular Surface Replacement artificial hip. However, the 12 jurists "declined to issue punitive damages, saying the company's DePuy orthopedics unit, which made and marketed the all-metal device, did not act with fraud or malice."

        The Los Angeles Times (3/9, Terhune, 692K) added that during "the five-week trial, Loren Kransky, a 65-year-old former prison guard in Montana, testified that he suffered metal poisoning and other health problems from the company's ASR XL hip implant he received in 2007." The Los Angeles jury had "six days of deliberations in this closely watched case," before ordering the J&J unit "to pay $338,136 for Kransky's medical expenses and $8 million for his pain and suffering" on Friday.

        The Wall Street Journal (3/9, B4, Loftus, Subscription Publication, 2.29M) noted that in a statement issued after Friday's ruling, DePuy spokesperson Lorie Gawreluk said the company maintains that the ASR XL hip implants were not designed defectively and it is planing to appeal the decision, based on the results of post-trial motions.

        However, Bloomberg News (3/9, Possley, Voreacos, Pettersson), quoted juror David Vega as saying after the verdict, "I wanted punitive damages," citing "evidence that DePuy took too long to correct problems found with the device." Bloomberg News also pointed out that the J&J unit "recalled 93,000 of the implants in August 2010, when it said 12 percent failed within five years." Meanwhile, analysts are projecting that overall, the 10,750 lawsuits over the device "could cost J&J billions of dollars to resolve."

        The National Law Journal (3/11, Bronstad) reports, "The jury found that the ASR XL hip implant was defectively designed and awarded $8,338,000 in compensatory damages. But the jury rejected Kransky's bid for punitive damages, which had been estimated at as much as $179 million, and his claim that Warsaw, Ind.-based DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J., failed to adequately warn of the risks associated with its product. 'This is the first of many days of reckoning for DePuy and Johnson & Johnson,' said Brian Panish of Panish, Shea & Boyle in Los Angeles, who represents Kransky. 'We will not rest until they are held fully accountable for the thousands of patients they harmed.'"
        The AP, Reuters (3/9, Beasley) and Dow Jones Newswires (3/9, Loftus) also covered the verdict

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