March 17, 2016: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. and its parent company, Johnson and Johnson (J&J), were found liable by a Texas jury for injuries resulting from its DePuy Pinnacle defective products. DePuy designed and manufactured the DePuy Pinnacle stem and DePuy Ultamet liners, which when used together, form a cobalt and chromium “metal on metal” hip design. The evidence showed that the cobalt and chromium coating of the DePuy products were defective in design as wear between the metal head and the metal liner (inside the acetabular cup) causes cobalt and chromium to release into the body. This led to toxic levels of cobalt and chromium accumulating in patients with DePuy Pinnacle implants. Cobalt and chromium poisoning can cause a condition called metallosis, thereby damaging local tissue and muscle, or can cause the body to react and grow pseudotumors.
The case against Depuy and Johnson and Johnson was tried for two months before a jury in Dallas, Texas. The jury ultimately found against DePuy and Johnson and Johnson and awarded the five plaintiffs a collective $140 million in compensatory damages and an additional $360 million in punitive damages. The punitive damages were split $120 million and $240 million between DePuy and its parent company, respectively. The jury found that the companies had failed to warn the plaintiffs about the risks of the metal-on-metal design of its products – particularly the health hazards of cobalt and chromium metal release from the device into local tissue and blood stream.