Oral arguments were heard the first of December on the 2nd bellwether trial. The appellate court has yet to make its decision as to uphold the verdict or overturn it. No current bellwether trials are scheduled in the MDL, which is in the Northern District of Texas, because Judge Kinkeade is requesting input as to the best process for remanding cases to appropriate district courts.
On November 16th, a federal jury in Texas awarded 12 plaintiffs a total of $247 million in the fourth bellwether trial involving the Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip. That represented the third win in a row for plaintiffs against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson. The verdict was unanimous and included $168 million in punitive damages.
To recap the previous bellwether trials, the first bellwether trial involved a single plaintiff and concluded on October 23, 2014, and resulted in a Defense verdict. In the second bellwether trial, the jury awarded $497.6 million to five plaintiffs, and in the third bellwether trial, the Texas federal jury awarded $1.04 billion dollars to six plaintiffs, with $32 million in compensatory damages and $720 million in punitive damages. Judge Kinkeade did reduce the punitive damages award in the third bellwether trial against each Defendant. As stated, the previous verdicts are still under appeal
The bellwether cases are designed to be “representative” of most of the cases in the MDL. These cases will be used to set the tone for the rest of the litigation, to help DePuy assess case value, and hopefully to move the cases toward settlement. However, to date, no significant settlement discussions have taken place.