Well that was something. When we left you last Thursday, the jury for the third bellwether trial in the Pinnacle Hip Implant MDL had just started its deliberations, and we once again expressed concern over the trial’s evidentiary and procedural rulings and the effect they might have on the verdict. Our concern-level was high. Last time, amidst similar concerns, the jury came back with a half-billion dollar verdict.
Apparently that was chump change. Everything is bigger in Texas. And this time it was over one billion. Let that sink in. Over one billion. That’s a massive amount of money. Has anyone even ever won that in a lottery? It’s 1,000 winners of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. And then you have to add about 40 more winners because the actual verdict was about $1.04 billion.
It’s hard to believe that something didn’t go awry here—a second time. And, like the last time, we aren’t being Monday-morning quarterbacks. We saw the signs well in advance.
So what’s next? Well, this reality-shattering amount can’t stand. Over one-billion of it is punitive damages. That’s a heck of a multiplier. Somewhere along the line, either at the trial court or on appeal, it will be struck down. Maybe more important, the massive amount of the verdict has to scream to the Fifth Circuit: PROBLEMS!!! . . . Right?
The MDL court has scheduled another bellwether trial in September 2017. You can bet that the defendants will move to stay that trial pending rulings on appeals to the Fifth Circuit, including the appeal from the second bellwether trial and this one too.
The MDL Court denied the same motion before this trial, so you’d have to think it will likely do so again. Then there will be another writ of mandamus to the Fifth Circuit, something that was also denied before this last trial. Will it do so again? Oh boy, this is something.