Following up a story I wrote about earlier this week, today’s New York Times reports that a Los Angeles jury has “ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay more than $8.3 million in damages… in the first of more than 10,000 lawsuits pending against the medical products maker” and its subsidiary, DePuy Orthopedics.
The lawsuits stem from allegations that DePuy knew of problems with its all-metal Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implant long before the product was formally recalled in 2010, yet failed to act.
Of key interest for unsafe medical product victims here in Oregon or elsewhere are some of the legal technicalities of the jury verdict. According to the Times the jury award, which was announced Friday, does not include punitive damages because the jury found that DePuy “did not act with fraud or malice.” As the paper goes on to explain, however, it is not immediately clear how this will impact the thousands of other ASR-related legal actions. Though the article does not say so, this is partly because today’s case was decided by a state court in California. Different courts in other cities or states may view the matter differently, and state laws on medical product liability also vary from place to place. Another ASR-focused trial is scheduled to begin next week in Illinois. All that said, it is important for anyone suffering from what they believe to be an ASR-related injury to understand the details of the California jury’s award. According to the Times the jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay the plaintiff, a former prison guard from Montana, “$338,000 to cover his medical expenses. It also ordered him to be paid $8 million to cover his pain and emotional suffering.”