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Lawsuits & Settlments

Why Do Lawsuits Take So Long To Settle?

January 8, 2017
One of the hardest things for Americans injured by defective medical products or bad drugs to understand is the incredible length of time litigation takes to resolve these claims. Perhaps most frustrating is the Pinnacle Hip Implant liability litigation. It is frustrating because Johnson & Johnson continues to lose trials but refuses to acknowledge that the cases should resolve.

There have been four bellwether trials. In the first bellwether trial a Texas jury found in favor of Johnson & Johnson. The second bellwether, which is under appeal, included five plaintiffs from Texas. The third bellwether involved six plaintiffs from California who won more than $1 billion in punitive damages, reduced almost to half by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in 2017. The fourth bellwether trial was a verdict for the plaintiffs of almost a quarter billion dollars.

Johnson & Johnson continue to insist that that damages awarded in the trials regarding the Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants are excessive and should be either vacated or remanded for a new trial. Thus they appeal. And delay. And appeal.

For example, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopedics Inc. and five hip implant recipients who won a $502 million verdict in a bellwether trial over its Pinnacle Ultamet line of metal-on-metal hip implants are waiting for an opinion from the Fifth Circuit over whether their winnings were wrongly reduced to about $150 million.

The hip implant patients argue that the damages reflect the “severe, life-changing injuries they sustained” and their substantial impairment and pain, and that a Texas statutory cap on punitive damages awards unconstitutionally discriminates between wealthy and non-wealthy plaintiffs and violates the constitutional protection for open courts.

The Fifth Circuit will likely rule in 2018. Meanwhile more than 8,000 cases remain in the MDL and that same number of injured Americans wait patiently for justice against one of the world’s largest companies.

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