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Another DePuy Defective Hip Implant Lawsuit Heads to Trial

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Washington, DCAlicea et al v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. et al, the fourth bellwether defective hip implant lawsuit involving DePuy’s Pinnacle Ultamet implant will go to trial on September 5, 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

There are currently more than 9,000 Pinnacle hip failure lawsuits consolidated in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Texas. This case bears watching as parties test arguments and strategies, moving the larger litigation toward resolution. Potential plaintiffs should know that bellwether trials ultimately shape settlement arrangements.

Defense attorneys for DePuy Othopaedics Inc. (DePuy) and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) are currently deep in pretrial motions designed to limit the financial exposure of their clients. In March 2017, a DePuy Pinnacle hip failure lawsuit ended in a $151 million verdict for plaintiffs (reduced from $500 million pursuant to Texas state law In making the award, the jury was permitted to weigh past and future physical pain, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, physical impairment, mental suffering, and past medical expenses.

The defense arguments advanced in the most recent defective hip implant lawsuit include:
• J&J should not be held liable for products made by its subsidiary DePuy;
• Indiana law should apply to cap damages assessed against DePuy, and New Jersey law should similarly
limit J&J’s liability;
• Plaintiffs failed to offer evidence to support a strict liability claim that a safer design for the hip implant
• Plaintiffs failed to offer evidence to support an express warranty claim that J&J affirmatively promised that
the hip implants were free from defect; and
• Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that DePuy deviated from their own specifications in the manufacture of the
device, thus scuttling the theory that plaintiffs’ harm arose from a manufacturing defect.

Unlike the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular metal-on-metal hip replacement, the Pinnacle system has not yet been the subject of a company recall. Nonetheless, DePuy has been subject to criticism for an unreasonably high rate of failure of its Pinnacle hip implants. Patients report symptoms typical of hip replacement implant failure, including:
• Unexplained hip pain;
• Difficulty walking, standing or bearing weight;
• Loosening of the implant;
• Clicking or snapping sounds;
• Tissue death;
• Bone erosion, and
• Metallosis.

Any of these can lead to painful and costly revision surgery.

The upcoming DePuy Pinnacle Ultamet litigation should help clarify how patients suffering from hip replacement implant failure should proceed toward the just resolution of a harmful situation.


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