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Illinois plaintiffs could benefit from hip implant settlement

Time can be a tool for offense or defense in an Illinois liability lawsuit. A plaintiff in pursuit of a defective products' verdict not only runs up a defendant's legal costs but also keeps the case alive in the public eye. Media attention is the last thing a negligent manufacturer wants to affect a company's bottom line. Settlements help defendants avoid prolonged brand damage.

A defendant also may use time as a legal weapon. Dragging out a product liability court fight depletes a plaintiff's energy and resources. Drawn-out litigation can and does frustrate plaintiffs' efforts to receive compensation for negligence.

There's no doubt the largest health-care product maker on the planet has the ability to withstand a lengthy court battle, but Johnson & Johnson may be as sensitive as any other business to continued bad publicity. Reports say the company wants to settle thousands of defective hip implant lawsuits in one fell swoop.

More than 11,000 lawsuits were brought against Johnson & Johnson when hip implants caused consumer injuries. Insiders say the product maker is prepared to pay $3 billion to settle the claims.

Reports state Johnson & Johnson's massive "global" offer is contingent upon the verdicts in seven cases on court dockets between now and January, including a Chicago lawsuit set for December. J&J has sunk nearly $1 billion into corrective measures and more for legal costs, including an $8.3 million payout for a negative verdict in a single implant trial.

Thousands of lawsuits were filed against Johnson & Johnson's DePuy division after the 2010 recall of 93,000 hip implants made of metallic elements. An enormous number of device failures resulted in patient pain and additional surgeries. More than one in 10 implants failed.

Medical product liability settlements are complex. Satisfactory terms are required for both sides which, for plaintiffs, can include special consideration for extreme personal suffering.

Source: bloomberg.com, "J&J Said to Weigh $3 Billion Settlement of Its Hip Implant Cases" Jef Feeley & David Voreacos, Aug. 21, 2013

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