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Johnson & Johnson Wants to Pay $3 Billion Depuy ASR Settlement But Is It Enough?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

Have you been suffering from your ASR XL Acetabular or ASR Hip Resurfacing System from Johnson & Johnson? Trying to sue J&J for the use of these two recalled hip replacements that caused more damage than good? Well some news has been leaked by 5 unknown sources, rumored to be J&J employees or people who are involved in the mass-tort implant case. J&J has discussed paying more than $3 billion to settle these lawsuits, but I ask you, is that enough?

In August 2010, J&J’s Depuy unit recalled over 93,000 implants, including 37,000 here in the U.S after the company read data from a UK report showing that the models had a 12% failure rate after 5 years. J&J was aware of the problems the models caused, and instead of recalling sooner, they studied a new design in 2008, but that effort was too little too late. Made from cobalt and chromium alloy, the models work like a ball in a cup, where a metal ball slides against a metal cup. This movement causes the metal alloys to rub together, causing pain for patients and metal debris to scrape off and remain in the body. This has led to harmful increases of metal ions in the bloodstream, or blood poisoning.

If the plaintiffs were to accept J&J’s $3billion offer that would only equate to about $300,000 per victim. Will that cover injuries sustained by patients, especially those who received surgery to replace these recalled hip products? Is it enough money to guarantee someone a lifetimes worth of physical therapy? J&J has already spent $993 million in settling these cases, what’s another couple million or two when it comes to people’s health? In its first case battling a defective ASR device, J&J lost and an $8.3 million verdict was awarded. Unfortunately, mass-tort implant cases are rarely settled for large sums of money, but this settlement may be an historical one.

J&J has agreed to award victims of its recalled hip products according to the following factors:

  1. Age;
  2. Extent of injuries;
  3. Whether patient had one more surgeries to replace defective implants.

It is rumored that J&J and its lawyers have agreed on a “global settlement” that will cover all cases here in the U.S. The company will also use a matrix or grid system to determine the extent of injuries based on five or six variables, which will then determine the value of any claim.

There are several obstacles still remaining: how many years will it take for J&J to potentially pay any future claims, will Medicare claims be paid, and are compensation for dual hip surgeries and infection cases included? There are 7 trials for the ASR hip injuries scheduled to begin this year. The first is September 9th in federal court in Cleveland, OH. For those suffering here in NYC, the federal trials are scheduled to begin in October and January in Hackensack, NJ.

If you feel like you are a victim of J&J’s recalled hip replacements, then contact our office.

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