J&J’s DePuy Wins 1st Pinnacle Hip Implant TrialOctober 24, 2014 — A jury in Dallas, Texas has unanimously cleared Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopedics of wrongdoing in the first case to go to trial involving the Pinnacle, a metal-on-metal hip implant that has been linked to severe side effects.

The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli, who was implanted with two Pinnacle hip implants in 2009. At issue was the Ultamet metal liner, which creates a metal-on-metal implant when it is combined with the Pinnacle. The Ultamet was withdrawn from the market in August 2013 for market reasons.

Herlihy-Paoli says the metal-on-metal design was defective because the grinding metal parts shed particles of chromium and cobalt into her body. The level of cobalt in her blood soared to 85-times the normal level. She also required multiple surgeries to fix and replace the implants after surrounding tissue became infected.

In the trial, her attorneys accused DePuy of negligence for defectively designing the implant and failing to warn surgeons and patients about the potential risks. As safety concerns grew for other metal-on-metal implants, like the ASR XL, lawyers say DePuy continued to push doctors to use the Pinnacle.

They also claimed DePuy aggressively marketed the implant to younger, more active patients — not because clinical data suggested it was any better than ceramic or plastic implants, but because there was an opportunity for them to make a profit.

DePuy is facing about 6,500 more lawsuits involving the Pinnacle, which have been consolidated in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Texas under Judge James E. Kinkeade.

By winning the first “bellwether” trial in the litigation, Johnson & Johnson is undoubtedly hoping to avoid a repeat of last year’s $2.5 billion settlement in more than 7,000 lawsuits over the ASR, a metal-on-metal implant that was recalled in 2010.

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