Johnson & Johnson to pay $8.3 million in defective hip case

The DePuy unit of Johnson & Johnson, which has taken considerable criticism over the design of its ASR XL metal-on-metal hip implant, was recently dealt another blow after a California jury ruled the corporation must pay $8.3 million in compensatory damages to a patient who was injured by the device. 

According to Bloomberg, the case was the first of nearly 11,000 involving the faulty device to go to trial. In its verdict, the Los Angeles jury ruled that Johnson & Johnson must pay the $8.3 million to Loren “Bill” Kransky, a former prison guard from Montana. Kransky reportedly claimed that the hip device became dislocated, causing him pain and forcing him to undergo follow-up revision surgeries, the news source said. The Associated Press reported that Kransky also claimed that black metallic pieces flaked off of the device, which led to metal poisoning that could have potentially resulted in the man’s death. 

Kransky’s attorney, Michael Kelly, said during closing arguments on February 28 that the importance of the case could not be overstated. 

“This is not an imperfect hip, this is a public health disaster,” Kelly said following the trial, which lasted five weeks. “Somebody needs to tell them, ‘Don’t make Bill Kransky come to court. Build these things right. Don’t let this happen again.'”

Johnson & Johnson, the medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturer based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, ceased production of the ASR XL implant in 2009 and issued a recall in 2010, the AP reported. However, the hip implant had been sold for eight years to more than 90,000 people around the world, leading to the massive number of lawsuits. 

One juror, David Vega, told Bloomberg following the verdict that he had also sought to force DePuy to pay punitive damages in the case, based on evidence he felt suggested the firm took too much time to correct the problem. In February, The New York Times reported that not all metal-on-metal hip devices that were implanted over the past decade were sufficiently tested, due to loopholes in the Food and Drug Administration regulatory requirements. 

As massive lawsuits such as the ones facing the DePuy unit of Johnson & Johnson indicate, it’s critical for companies to test their products as much as possible, and in a smart, efficient manner. Such testing can ultimately limit the risk of defects and extend product life.