Score one for the little guy. After a month long trial, a Los Angeles jury awarded a retired Montana prison guard over $8 million dollars in a verdict against Johnson & Johnson -the world's largest seller of healthcare products - for its defective DePuy ASR hip implant. That's $3 million more than the guard asked the jury for to compensate him for injuries he suffered from the defective metal hip device. Johnson & Johnson recalled about 93,000 DePuy ASR hip implants in August 2010. The jury's verdict in Los Angeles confirms that the defective metal-on-metal hip implants cause metallosis and a resulting variety of health problems.
Plaintiff's counsel had asked the jury to award $179 million in punitive damages, but the jury declined to award any punitive damages. Johnson & Johnson may take solace in winning that battle within the trial. But not so fast. At least one juror wanted to award punitive damages. No doubt those who are trying the next case against J&J will have learned from this Los Angeles trial. You can be sure they are going to adjust and then lean in hard on the punitive damages argument again. After all, it's the large punishing verdict of punitive damages that can have the best deterrent effect to reduce the likelihood these defective products ever make it to market. The objective is simple: Making sure that folks get a safe product.