Federal District Court Denies in Part and Grants in Part Admissibility of Defendant’s Evidence on Punitive Damages

Hip_replacement_Image_3684-PHWhen a lawsuit involving a defective product or pharmaceutical involves punitive damages allegations, many defendants will attempt to offer evidence to mitigate any potential award of punitive damages against them. In litigation against Wright Medical Technology and Wright Medical Group involving its allegedly defective hip implant devices, the defendants have offered evidence designed to persuade the jury members that punitive damages awards are not necessary.

According to a recent decision from a federal district court in Atlanta, however, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion in limine seeking to exclude the defendants’ evidence. The excluded evidence consisted of testimony regarding the availability of implant devices and the financial cost of these devices, in addition to evidence about the impact that a large punitive damages award would have on the defendants’ likelihood of successfully competing in the market. It also indicated that layoffs may result if a large punitive damages award was levied against them.

According to the court, this evidence did not “make any fact regarding whether punitive damages may be awarded more or less probable, nor [was] it factual information of consequence in deciding the action.” Additionally, the court rejected the defendants’ assertion that a potential punitive damages award would chill or stifle innovation, finding that the admission of such evidence would constitute a “distracting departure” from the core issues of the case and result in an unnecessary delay of the litigation.

The court also reserved the right to rule on the portion of the plaintiff’s motion seeking to exclude the defendants’ evidence supporting their good moral character until after the trial concluded. The defendants offered evidence illustrating their achievements, distinctions, and actions in community-based and commercial settings. They also sought to admit evidence showing that their company mission statement aims to create and develop medical devices that improve the quality of life for people.

In reserving this right, the court concluded that this category of evidence is ordinarily inadmissible under the rules of evidence. The court did state, however, that “it is conceivable, if not likely, that Defendants’ mission statement and the manner in which it guided them in the manufacture of hip implant devices is probative of Defendant’s intent” for the purpose of facilitating the jury’s decision whether to award punitive damages.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as the result of a defective medical device such as a hip implant, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, our dedicated, compassionate product liability lawyers have helped numerous defective medical device victims bring claims against a product manufacturer to recover the settlement or judgment that they deserve. The last thing you and your family should have to worry about during this stressful time is collecting evidence and going up against a large medical device company. Representing clients across the nation, including in Florida, Texas, and Illinois, we offer a free consultation to help you determine the scope of your rights. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your appointment.

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