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New Wave of DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuits Being Filed across the Country

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Warsaw, INWhile product recalls can affect a significant percentage of the population, the case of the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement recall has perhaps impacted more than most, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

The news source reports that approximately 1,000 lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts over the defective hip implants. In these complaints, the plaintiffs allege that DePuy—a unit of Johnson & Johnson—was aware of the defects associated with the device before it stopped manufacturing them in 2009.

While the specific number of lawsuits may be significantly less than previous cases involving medication recalls, the DePuy cases could ultimately cost Johnson & Johnson more than $1 billion in product liability, an analyst with Wells Fargo told the news provider.

In addition, despite denying allegations that the company was aware of the problems with the products yet still manufactured them, a DePuy spokeswoman admitted to the news source that Johnson & Johnson increased its total reserves for liability costs by $570 million in 2010, with some of that money dedicated to DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement patients.

Likewise, the company has said that it has put aside approximately $280 million to cover costs for additional surgeries and other medical expenses endured by patients who have experienced problems with the Pinnacle device, according to the news source.

Of the 93,000 patients around the world that Johnson & Johnson estimates have received the defective devices, the DePuy spokeswoman said the unit has assisted approximately 27,000 callers, a number of whom had sought reimbursement for the devices.

Many people familiar with the cases suggest that if, as the lawsuits assert, DePuy was aware of the defects associated with the devices but still waited a significant amount of time to issue the recall, plaintiffs will likely receive more compensation than they would in typical product or medication liability instances.

"If you knew about the problem and didn't recall the product for a year more, that tends to justify a higher award of punitive damages," Columbia University law professor John Coffee told the news source, adding that DePuy could still move to have the cases not qualify as class action and say that all of the individual injuries are different.

According to the Southeast Texas Record, Texas resident Judy Walters recently filed a lawsuit against DePuy over its ASR XL Acetabular System, which allegedly caused her to suffer muscle damage.

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