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More than twelve thousand patients who received DePuy’s ASR XL or Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacements have sued DePuy over their malfunction, alleging that the company knowingly sold defective and dangerous products. The devices release metal debris into surrounding tissue, leading to a host of complications and an extremely high failure rate. DePuy ultimately recalled its ASR hip systems, but plaintiffs allege they knew of its problems long beforehand and even actively worked to suppress evidence of malfunction. Other manufacturers have issued similar recalls.
While the Pinnacle cases are waiting on the completion of bellwether cases, scheduled to begin in September 2014, the majority of the federal ASR cases have reached a settlement.
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DePuy Hip Replacement Verdicts
Kransky v. DePuy (2013)
In one of the first suits to go to trial, Loren Kransky, a retired corrections officer, was awarded $8.3 million by a California state court over his defective ASR XL implant. The jury ruled that the defective device caused Kransky’s injuries, but also found that the company had properly warned of the device’s risks, declining to levy the $179 million in punitive damages that Kransky’s lawyers were arguing for. At least one juror wanted to award punitive damages, but ultimately the payout came to $338,000 for medical expenses and $8 million for pain and suffering.
Strum v. DePuy (2013)
A jury in Chicago ruled in DePuy’s favor, rejecting Illinois nurse Carol Strum’s allegations that her implant was defective. Strum’s attorneys had asked the jury for $5 million in damages, but Johnson & Johnson attorneys successfully argued that she had a hypersensitivity to the implant, pointing out that her pain did not diminish with a new implant. Four jurors wanted to rule in Strum’s favor. However, a unanimous decision was not required.
DePuy Hip Replacement Settlements
In 2012, the company settled with three Nevada residents, Annelise Rundle, Martha Bender and Katherine Guy, prior to going to trial in state court in Las Vegas. Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay the women about $200,000 each, on the lower end of what they might have expected to pay. Since then, DePuy has settled several other individual cases for undisclosed sums.
In November 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to a $4 billion settlement with more than 7,500 patients, for an average payout of over $300,000 per plaintiff. The settlement is uncapped, meaning that patients who did not take part in the suit, or whose implants fail in the future, may be eligible, raising the total payout. While Johnson & Johnson will pay a huge amount of money in the settlement, that sum is far less than they would have paid by fighting the lawsuits in open court, yielding substantial savings in the coming years.
- Harris, A. (2013, April 16). Johnson & Johnson wins hip implant jury trial in chicago. Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- 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.
- MDL Statistics Report – Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets. United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.
- Harris, A., & Voreacos, D. (2013, March 13). J&J’s Ekdahl says hip recalled for clinical reasons. Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- 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 31, 2014.
- Feeley, J., & Voreacos, D. (2012, August 21). J&J said to pay $600,000 to settle first suits over hips. Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
- MDL Docket No. 3:11-MD-2244-K. (2013, September 30). In re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. Pinnacle Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation: Agreed order staying cases pending bellwether trials. Retrieved March 31, 2014.