February 5, 2019 / 12:29 AM / 3 months ago

J&J, plaintiffs 'close' to deal on Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits: lawyer

Feb 4 (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson's DePuy Orthopaedics unit is in settlement talks to resolve the bulk of individual lawsuits alleging the company's metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implants were defective and caused severe injuries, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said on Monday.

Texas-based plaintiff lawyer Mark Lanier said lawyers for the consumers had talked to the company in recent days to reach an agreement to resolve the long-running litigation that includes more than 10,000 cases.

"It's still not a done deal, but we're getting close," Lanier said, adding that plaintiffs hope to reach a final agreement by the end of the year.

Lanier said it was uncertain at this point how many of the roughly 10,000 Pinnacle lawsuits would be subject to the settlement. He declined further comment.

A spokeswoman for DePuy on Monday declined to comment.

Bloomberg first reported on the settlement talks.

In 2013, DePuy ceased selling the metal-on-metal Pinnacle devices after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration strengthened its artificial hip regulations. The Pinnacle system continues to be sold with other material combinations.

Metal-on-metal hip implants have come under scrutiny over allegations that the products cause a build-up of metal ions in the blood, causing groin pain, allergic reactions, bone erosion and tissue death.

J&J denies those allegations, saying the company acted appropriately and responsibly in the development, testing and marketing of the devices.

Last month, J&J agreed to pay $120 million to resolve deceptive marketing claims by several U.S. states over metal-on-metal hip implants. DePuy said the settlement involved no admission of liability or misconduct on the part of the companies.

J&J to date has faced several federal jury trials over the Pinnacle hip implants. It won the first case in 2014, but lost all subsequent trials, with verdicts ranging from $151 million to $540 million.

J&J has appealed those verdicts.

News of the settlement talks on Monday caused a federal judge overseeing an ongoing Pinnacle trial in Dallas to dismiss the jury in that case. Lanier said that case, involving five Texas plaintiffs, has not been settled yet. (Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Anthony Lin and Rosalba O'Brien)

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