Jury Rules in Favor of DePuy in Second Hip Replacement Bellwether Suit
On Tuesday, April 16th, a Chicago jury ruled in favor of Johson & Johnson / Ethicon in the second bellwether trial in thousands of personal injury lawsuits against the DePuy ASR hip replacement manufacturer.
Ethicon, a subsidiary of the much-maligned Johnson & Johnson, faces 11,000 personal injury lawsuits related to the faulty DePuy ASR hip replacement devices.
The Chicago, Illinois jury awarded no damages to Carol Strum, according to a statement from J&J. The former nurse claimed that she had been injured by her DePuy ASR hip implant after her surgery in 2008, and was forced to have the device removed in 2011.
The ruling contrasts with the first bellwether trial, in which plaintiff Loren Kransky, a former security guard, suffered serious personal injury from metal shavings entering his blood, as well as the cup and ball part of the DePuy ASR device failing. Kransky was awarded $8.3 million, although he did not receive punitive damages against Ethicon.
The bellwether trials against Ethicon’s DePuy ASR devices are designed to determine a range for settlement awards in the other personal injury cases against the medical manufacturer.
Some industry analysts estimated that the lawsuits would ultimately cost Johnson & Johnson billions of dollars to resolve, and this is not the only defective product litigation that J&J faces. Because so many lawsuits have been brought forth, including against Ethicon’s all-metal hip replacement devices, the personal injury cases have been divided into two multidistrict litigations (MDLs) – one for the ASR range of hip replacement devices, and one for the Pinnacle hip devices.
DePuy ASR Hip Replacement Devices Faced Problems from the Start
The first DePuy all-metal hip replacement devices were released onto the US market in 2003. By 2009, over 93,000 DePuy all-metal hip replacement devices had been sold globally, with 37,000 in the United States alone. That year, Ethicon and J&J began to phase out the all-metal devices, which they said was due to declining sales. However, by August 2010, the medical manufacturer issued a voluntary recall of DePuy hip implants, because the devices failed at a higher than expected rate, and both patients and consumers complained.
During Loren Kransky’s bellwether case, the court saw documents from the manufacturer that showed as early as 2005, Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson began receiving complaints about DePuy all-metal hip devices. The documents also revealed that, in 2007, the all-metal hip replacement devices failed an internal test, and in 2011, another internal analysis showed that nearly 36% of the devices failed within the first five years after implantation. Despite the evidence, however, spokespersons and attorneys for Johnson & Johnson deny any wrongdoing.
“DePuy’s actions concerning the product were appropriate and responsible, including the program to address patients’ medical costs related to the recall,” said Lorie Gawreluk, a spokeswoman for DePuy.
The FDA will scrutinize future all-metal hip replacement devices more closely, and is keeping an eye on Ethicon’s future DePuy developments. In a statement on the devices, the FDA said: “It is known that over time, the metal particles around some implants can cause damage to bone and/or tissue surrounding the implant and joint.” In addition, the FDA adds that there are a “small number of patients in which high levels of metal ions in the bloodstream may have caused other types of symptoms or illnesses elsewhere in the body, including effects on the heart, nervous system, and thyroid gland.”
Currently, it is unknown why the Chicago jury ruled in favor of J&J, while the first bellwether case ruled in favor of the plaintiff. However, future bellwether cases will further clarify the issue.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Cases Against DePuy ASR and Johnson & Johnson
If you or a loved one has received a metal hip replacement device, specifically from DePuy Orthopedics, and have since suffered painful side effects, including pain, infection, liver failure, device failure, or metallosis, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.