• Approximately 10,000 defective product lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. The lawsuits allege the ASR XL Acetabular metal-on-metal hip replacement has a design flaw that has resulted in many patients needing follow-up hip revision surgery to replace the device soon after implant.
• Plaintiffs who filed these lawsuits also allege DePuy Orthopaedics was aware of problems resulting from the implant long before the company recalled the product on August 24, 2010.
• Further, the complaints allege that DePuy failed to warn doctors about potential problems resulting from the implant, including pain, grinding or clicking in the hips and a high metal content in blood tests.
• The DePuy Orthopaedic ASR XL Acetabular hip replacement lawsuits are not related to the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacement, which has an unreasonably high failure rate.
• The DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement concerns are in addition to problems with the ASR XL. Although the Pinnacle hip replacement is similar to the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Systems and the DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System, the DePuy Pinnacle Acetabular Cup System has not been recalled.
Here’s an update on the current status of Depuy ASR XL Hip Replacement litigation:
• The first federal trial over DePuy Orthopaedics Inc.’s metal-on-metal hip replacement, brought by a woman in Rochester, New York, is scheduled to start in Cleveland on September 9, 2013.
• The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff suffered a dislocated hip and consequently was forced to undergo surgery to remove her ASR XL hip implant.
• This bellwether case is the first of nearly 8,000 such lawsuits jurors will face, which have been coordinated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge David Katz.
• Another trial is scheduled for November 8 in state court in Florida.
• In California, the first bellwether trial is scheduled to begin October 15. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer is overseeing about 2,000 defective DePuy ASR cases.
• In New Jersey, Bergen County Superior Court Judge Brian Martinotti has scheduled the first trial of more than 600 cases for October 21. New Brunswick, New Jersey, is where DePuy’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson, has headquarters.
• Verdicts have been rendered earlier this year in state court cases in California and Illinois.
• $8.3 million was awarded on March 8, by a jury in Los Angeles County Superior Court hearing the case of Loren Kransky. Kransky is a retired prison guard who had a DePuy ASR device implanted in 2007. DePuy has appealed that verdict to California’s Second District Court of Appeal.
• On April 16, 2013, a jury in Chicago issued a verdict for DePuy in a case brought by Carol Strum, who had the device implanted in 2008 but claimed she was forced to have surgery to replace it three years later. That trial was the first of 300 actions pending before Cook County, Ill., Circuit Judge Deborah Mary Dooling, who had asked lawyers to designate certain cases as representative.
What’s an MDL?
• An MDL is more practical for both the plaintiffs and the judicial system, as it allows for trying all cases on an individual basis. An MDL is a special federal legal procedure that speeds up the process of handling complex cases such as complex product liability lawsuits. An MDL can take place when civil actions involving one or more common questions of fact are pending in different districts. Additionally, MDLs reduce the likelihood of duplicative discovery and conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges.
DePuy ASR XL Product History
• The DePuy ASR was approved for use by the FDA in 2005. It was cleared through a regulatory pathway that did not require it to undergo clinical trials.
• In March 2010, DePuy sent a letter to doctors saying recently analyzed data from Australia indicated a higher-than-expected failure rate than traditional hip replacement on certain types of patients. As well, the data showed that the risk was highest for patients of small stature, which would indicate women and patients with weak bones.
• On August 24, 2010, following some 300 complaints from people who received the metal-on-metal hip replacement, DePuy withdrew its ASR XL Acetabular model from the market.
• On May 6, 2011, the US Food & Drug Administration ordered 21 manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants to conduct surveillance on their products and to assess their safety.
• The ASR is considered by a number of orthopedic experts to be a defective product and DePuy hip replacement lawsuits are currently pending.
About DePuy Product Liability Lawsuits
• Product liability lawsuits allege negligent design and promotion of a defective product. According to The New York Times, DePuy Orthopedics introduced its metal-on-metal hip implant without adequately testing and researching the device.
• Some patients who were implanted with the DePuy ASR have developed ALVAL (aseptic lymphocyte dominated vasculitis associated lesion), which is an adverse tissue reaction to metal particles and ions, and pseudotumor (a soft tissue mass that may be the result of a toxic reaction to an excess of particulate metal wear debris).