June 25, 2014
In August of 2010, Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of DePuy, recalled over 93,000 of their metal-on-metal hip implant devices worldwide. About a third of those devices recalled were in the United States, where only the DePuy ASR Acetabular System was sold.
The DePuy recall came after the company found out that its ASR products had a “higher-than-normal” failure rate, and that more than one in ten patients who received the metal-on-metal device required revision surgery. It was discovered that the metal components have a tendency to rub against each other, causing small heavy metal ions to break off into a patient’s bloodstream. This causes metal poisoning, or “metallosis,” which can cause neurological problems and other side effects such as necrosis, swelling, and nerve, tissue, and muscle damage.
The DePuy ASR hip implants were approved by the Food and Drug Administration through a program aimed at efficiency, which permits devices to be “fast-tracked” through the approval process if the devices are sufficiently similar to a product that has already received Food and Drug Administration approval. The FDA has since proposed to reclassify metal-on-metal type hip implant devices as “high-risk medical devices,” which would require such devices to be tested on humans before being made available on the market.
The lawsuits against DePuy began in late 2012. In August, DePuy reached a settlement with three plaintiffs in a lawsuit that was scheduled to go to trial in Nevada state court. After reaching the settlement of approximately $200,000 per plaintiff, Johnson & Johnson offered a global settlement of about $200,000 per claim, but plaintiffs’ attorneys rejected the offer for being too low.
The first case that went to trial occurred in January of 2013 in Los Angeles, California. After evidence was introduced that indicated DePuy was aware of its problems years before the ASR recall, the court found the company liable for selling defective products, and on March 8, 2013, the jury awarded $8.3 million in compensatory damages against DePuy. The jury declined to award punitive damages.
In a second trial, filed in Chicago, Johnson & Johnson successfully defended against a woman’s claim that she was harmed by DePuy’s defectively designed product. The majority of a 12-person jury explained that the case presented was not strong enough for them all to agree that DePuy and Johnson & Johnson were liable.
Despite this win for Johnson & Johnson and DePuy, on October 1, a California plaintiff accepted a settlement for an undisclosed sum, and later that month, the Bergen County District Court in New Jersey recorded a DePuy ASR case “resolved,” and removed the matter from its trial calendar.
The New Jersey Superior Court delayed the state’s consolidation of more than 650 DePuy ASR lawsuits for discovery proceedings until Jun. 30, 2014. All of the federal cases filed across the country against Depuy have been consolidated and are being tried in the Northern District of Ohio. These federal cases were set to begin Sept. 24, 2013, but the federal cases were delayed ninety days for pretrial document discovery and to schedule witnesses.
The outcome of these delayed cases will likely forecast the cases to follow and the federal cases in Ohio have been deemed to be the bellwether cases against Depuy. Johnson & Johnson considered an offer to pay $3 billion to settle over 10,000 cases involving DePuy’s ASR hip implant devices.
The injuries associated with the defective DePuy ASR hip implant devices are very serious, and the need for revision surgery may expose you to medical malpractice. If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Khonsari Law Group. We are actively handling Depuy matters at this time and are skilled in handling many types of claims, including products liability and medical malpractice claims.