December 15, 2015

Alameda jury awards $70 million in punitive damages against Ethicon Inc. for defective medical device

Law 360 (subscription required) is reporting that yesterday an Alameda County jury awarded $70 million in punitive damages to a woman who claimed injury from a defective hemorrhoid stapler manufactured by Ethicon, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.  The plaintiff's lawyers have also issued a press release touting their victory. 

It's a safe bet that the defendant will challenge the punitive damages as excessive, especially since the compensatory damages in this case were already substantial ($9.8 million).  If the defendant is facing a multitude of other claims based on the same misconduct, that may give rise to additional arguments for challenging the award.  (See this post by the folks at Guideposts, discussing another award in the medical device context.)  We'll keep an eye out for further developments in this one.