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Johnson & Johnson Headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Johnson & Johnson Headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Johnson & Johnson lost a $1 billion verdict on Thursday in a closely watched trial over a hip implant device made by its DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. division.

After less than a day of deliberations, a federal jury in Dallas awarded $1.04 billion to six plaintiffs after concluding that Johnson & Johnson misled them and their doctors about the safety of the Pinnacle hip implant. The lawsuits were combined in a trial that began on Oct. 3.

Johnson & Johnson faces suits by more than 8,500 plaintiffs in multidistrict litigation in federal court in Dallas alleging it failed to warn doctors and consumers about the device’s complications, which included pain and subsequent removal surgeries.

The award included $1 billion in punitive damages and $40 million in compensatory damages.

“Anyone who sees the evidence will be appalled at the conduct of J&J,” said lead plaintiffs attorney W. Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm in Houston. “These cases are not hard to try. J&J needs to get responsible and settle these cases. Thousands are hurting.”

Johnson & Johnson immediately planned post-trial motions.

Spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley said DePuy acted “appropriately and responsibly” in the design and testing of the product, which is “backed by a strong track record of clinical data showing reduced pain and restored mobility for patients suffering from chronic hip pain.”

Johnson & Johnson also immediately criticized the rulings in the case. “Now the appellate court will need to review errors repeated in two trials, and we will continue to urge that no further trials be conducted until we receive appellate court guidance,” said Johnson & Johnson attorney John Beisner, leader of the mass torts, insurance and consumer litigation group at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

In 2014, Johnson & Johnson won the first verdict over the Pinnacle. But in March, another federal jury in Dallas awarded $502 million to five plaintiffs whose suits were combined. The award was later reduced to $150 million under Texas law.

But according to Jayne Conroy, a member of the plaintiffs executive committee in the Pinnacle multidistrict litigation, Thursday’s award won’t be subject to a punitive damages cap because it was tried under California law. She credited the win with evidence that showed Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks to surgeons to promote the device, even though it knew it was riskier than other implants.

“The evidence presented in the testimony against J&J told the deeper story of how the science was manipulated in order to sell the product,” wrote Conroy, a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy.

Amanda Bronstad can be reached at abronstad@alm.com. On Twitter: @abronstadnlj.

Originally published on The National Law Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.  

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