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First Depuy Lawsuit Underway

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

A lawsuit is underway in California Superior Court against DePuy, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson for their defective ASR hip implant system. Over 10,000 suits have been filed across the United States since the implants were recalled in 2010. Over 35,000 ASRs were implanted in the United States, and 65,000 more internationally.

It has been found that many patients have been experiencing pain and difficulty walking along with requiring additional revision surgery within five years of receiving the implant. Such a procedure is both costly and causes the patient much pain. The failure rate of the DePuy hip replacement devices is considered to be around 40% at five years (based on DePuy’s internal data) with figures not yet agreed upon. The failure rate is expected to be considerably more given the significant number of complainants coming to light since the official recall of its product in 2010. Such a rate is considerably higher than that with which other implant systems deteriorate, estimated at 5% within 5 years.

In 2011 Johnson & Johnson, anticipating substantial losses set aside $3 billion for hip implant litigation. Court documents suggest that Johnson & Johnson withheld evidence which shows that the hip implant system was likely to fail in five years or less for 40% of patients. On February 1, 2012, a toxicologist testified that after careful review of medical records the plaintiff suffered from high levels of metal ions in his bloodstream.

In a Los Angeles case, it has come to light that there is a design flaw in the implant which allows metal to grind on metal. The plaintiffs claim that microscopic metal particles generated from the grinding movement result in metallic debris being released into the blood and resulted in the recipient’s body to reject the implant. A University of California professor of medicine has testified that DePuy should have tested the possible effects the metals in its ASR hip implant could have on recipients before introducing its product to the market. The FDA in January 2013 released an updated safety communication warning stating that metal-on-metal implants provide unique risks in addition to those general risks associated with any implants. We are spearheading litigation in New Jersey, the home of parent corporation Johnson & Johnson, by filing over 100 cases. Many of our cases were originally asymptomatic but unfortunately have gone on to have revisions.

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