Since Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopedics division announced a recall of its ASR all-metal hips in 2010, the company has faced an increasing number of lawsuits filed on behalf of patients who claim they were injured by one of these devices. As new lawsuits continue to mount, a Nevada judge has set the first trial date in the DePuy hip litigation.
According to reports, the trial is scheduled to begin in a Las Vegas court in December. The case involves three plaintiffs who allege that they experienced complications caused by a DePuy hip and that their injuries required them to undergo additional revision surgery. The Nevada trial is unique because it involves several of the handful of plaintiffs whose cases have not been consolidated into the DePuy hip federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) which is currently pending in an Ohio district court. An estimated 3,500 lawsuits were consolidated into the federal MDL in order to expedite the discovery process and streamline pretrial proceedings. Approximately ten plaintiffs, including the three in Nevada, three in Maryland, two in Florida and one each in Wisconsin and Utah, have been allowed to pursue their claims in state court. The three Maryland plaintiffs are scheduled to take their cases to trial in early 2012.
DePuy announced that it would recall approximately 93,000 ASR metal hip implants in August 2010 after data from joint registries in the U.K. and Australia indicated that the devices were failing at significantly high rate. Research suggested that approximately 12 to 13% of the all-metal hips were failing within the first five years. Patients who had been fitted with a DePuy reported experiencing a wide range of complications, including pain, swelling, tissue damage and loss of mobility.
Earlier this year, a New York Times article reported that Johnson & Johnson may have been aware of the problems associated with the DePuy hips for as long as a year prior to issuing the recall. According to an internal communication published by the Times, the company also continued to market an all-metal hip resurfacing device overseas for a year after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rejected its application for approval. Reports have also indicated that Johnson & Johnson initiated a phaseout of the DePuy ASR hips following receipt of the FDA’s nonapproval notice.
Last month, an article published in The Lancet medical journal called for a full-scale ban of all-metal hip implants, citing the complications associated with these devices. Health officials in the U.K. have been particularly concerned with the potential for systemic toxicity caused by the shedding of tiny particles of metal into the body. While no definitive link has been established between metal hips and other serious health conditions such as cancer, researchers have suggested that the additional research is needed in order to fully evaluate the potential for long-term health consequences.
Patients who believe they were injured by a DePuy hip may still be eligible to join in the pending litigation. It’s recommended that anyone who has received a DePuy ASR hip contact an experienced DePuy hip injury lawyer to discuss their legal rights.