Johnson & Johnson was hit with another stinging verdict Thursday when a federal jury in Texas ordered it to pay just over $1 billion to six people whose hip implants failed and had to be surgically removed. The company—which rejected a pre-trial offer to settle for $1.8 million, according to Mark Lanier, who represented the plaintiffs—still faces more than 8,000 lawsuits over the metal-on-metal Pinnacle implants and says it will appeal the verdict immediately, Reuters reports. The plaintiffs accused the company and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit of failing to warn consumers about the risks of its defectively designed implants. All but $32 million of the $1.04 billion verdict was punitive damages.
This was the third "test case" involving the implant to go to court. J&J won the first, but a jury awarded the plaintiffs $502 million, later reduced to $150 million, in the second. "The jury is telling J&J that they better settle these cases soon," Lanier tells Bloomberg. "All they are doing by trying more of these cases is driving up their costs and driving the company's reputation into the mud." A University of Michigan law professor agrees, saying there's "no easy way out of these cases now that they have a billion-dollar verdict against them." (In October, the company was hit with another huge verdict over its talcum powder, which plaintiffs said was linked to ovarian cancer.)