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DePuy Lawsuit

Thousands of recipients of DePuy's ASR and Pinnacle hip products are suing the manufacturer after suffering from metal-on-metal complications and high device failure rates.

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Johnson & Johnson, parent company to DePuy Orthopedics, is the world’s largest medical device manufacturer and the most prominent figure in ongoing litigation over defective metal-on-metal hip replacements, many of which have been recalled. The company is being sued by more than ten thousand patients who received either an Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) XL Acetabular Hip or a Pinnacle hip implant.

The ASR XL system is a metal-on-metal implant that supposedly offers increased durability. According to DePuy, it was designed with a larger femoral head meant to reduce the risk of dislocation. Thus, it was marketed as ideally suited to younger, more active patients.

The Pinnacle hip is a ball-and-socket system that can be customized according to any of the material combinations currently on the market (metal-on-polyethylene, ceramic-on-polyethylene, ceramic-on-metal, ceramic-on-ceramic, and metal-on-metal). It was marketed based on its supposed versatility and ability to be used in a wide variety of patients.

DePuy Hip Replacement Recall

In 2010, DePuy recalled its ASR hip systems after the release of a report, based on UK patient data, that showed abnormally high failure rates. It had already been quietly pulling the devices from shelves but denied that action was based on reports of side effects. A subsequent study reported that nearly half of all ASR implants fail within 9 years of implantation.

You should consult your attorney before agreeing to any recall terms, as you may be hurting your right to pursue legal action in the future. DePuy has been accused of aggressively trying to settle with patients who lack a complete understanding of their legal rights or the possible extent of their future medical costs.

DePuy discontinued the metal-on-metal version of the Pinnacle in 2013, but did not issue a recall.

DePuy Hip Replacement Lawsuit Allegations

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits allege that DePuy knowingly marketed defective devices. The friction of normal movement of the femoral head in the acetabular socket causes cobalt and chromium ions to wear away into the surrounding tissue and the bloodstream. This metal debris leads to a host of painful and debilitating side effects.

“DePuy knew that the design flaws in this defective device could cause it to shed those particles into patients, causing tissue death, causing high blood metal ion levels and the need for the serious and unnecessary second surgery,” the lawyer for an Illinois nurse argued.

“DePuy knew that the design flaws in this defective device could cause it to shed those particles into patients, causing tissue death, causing high blood metal ion levels and the need for the serious and unnecessary second surgery,” the lawyer for an Illinois nurse argued.

While DePuy executives admit that the ASR implant was eventually recalled for “clinical” reasons, the company denied in court that the product was defective.

“We absolutely didn’t say the product is a defective product,” said one DePuy lawyer. He added that to call the recall “an admission of a defect, it is absolutely absurd.”

DePuy allegedly considered redesigning the implant in 2008, but ultimately decided not to.

Most of the federal ASR and Pinnacle cases have been consolidated into two separate multidistrict litigations in Ohio and Texas. Thousands of other cases are working their way through state courts across the country.

DePuy Lawsuit Compensation

Plaintiffs in DePuy lawsuits may be eligible to receive compensation for a variety of reasons.

Medical expenses: A defective ASR XL or Pinnacle hip implant can lead to substantial expenses, from doctors’ visits and diagnostic procedures such as MRIs to the cost of revision surgery and physical therapy.

Lost earnings: Patients with a defective ASR XL or Pinnacle hip implant may miss work due to a recovery period or be unable to perform their jobs, leading to significant lost wages.

Pain and suffering: The side effects of a defective ASR XL or Pinnacle hip implant can be painful and debilitating, significantly impacting a patient’s quality of life and making everyday activities difficult or unpleasant.

Loss of consortium: The lifestyle changes, stress (financial and otherwise), and other existential effects of a defective ASR XL or Pinnacle hip implant can degrade family and spousal relationships, which these damages are designed to account for.

Punitive damages: These damages are meant as a deterrent to future wrongdoing. They are awarded in cases where a defendant’s behavior was determined by the courts to be particularly egregious. (To date, juries have declined to award punitive damages in DePuy hip implant cases.)

DePuy Verdicts, Settlements and Ongoing Suits

The Pinnacle cases, consolidated into multidistrict litigation in Texas, have been stayed pending the completion of bellwether trials, which are scheduled to commence in September of 2014.

A few federal cases have received decisions in open court, but the bulk of the federal ASR cases are included in an uncapped settlement, agreed to last November, that is expected to exceed $4 billion. That settlement would apply to patients who received revision surgery prior to August 31, 2013.

The Pinnacle cases, consolidated into multidistrict litigation in Texas, have been stayed pending the completion of bellwether trials, which are scheduled to commence in September of 2014.

If you think you received an ASR or Pinnacle implant, you should consult with your doctor. If you do have one of the implants, you should speak with your attorney, even if you aren’t yet experiencing any side effects. A qualified attorney can help you make the decision that is best for you.

  1. Possley, M., Voreacos, D., & Pettersson, E. (2013, March 8). J&J must pay $8.3 million over defective hip, jury says. Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  2. Associated Press. (2013, March 8). Jury awards $8 million-plus in hip implant suit against Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy subsidiary. The Washington Post.
  3. Harris, A. & Voreacos, D. (2013, March 12). J&J Faces Second Trial Over Recalled Hip After Loss. Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
  4. Harris, A. & Voreacos, D. (2013, March 13). J&J’s Ekdahl says hip recalled from clinical reasons. Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  5. United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. (2013, March 5). MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  6. Feeley, J., & Voreacos, D. (2013, November 13). J&J said to reach $4 billion deal to settle hip lawsuits. Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 31, 2014.