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Update on the Johnson & Johnson DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-Metal Implant Litigation

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

DePuy has been selling the Pinnacle hip implant longer than its ASR counterpart, although it has not been recalled. Nonetheless, adverse event reports are in the thousands and over 1,000 suits have been filed. The lawsuits have been consolidated in New Jersey as well as a Texas federal court. Due to our firm’s exposure to hundreds of hip implant clients, we have noted a disturbing trend that Pinnacle implant victims tend to experience much more severe infections than ASR patients. Chrome and cobalt deterioration leads to an anaerobic infection in the hip area which cannot be treated successful with antibiotics until the implant is removed. Unfortunately, emergency removal surgery is needed. A new implant cannot be used until the infection clears, this being accomplished with an antibiotic spacer. Doctors will often note in medical records that the tissue is gray due to metal disease.

The Texas multidistrict court before Judge Kinceade is ahead of state courts. There are 1,250 suits and the number continues to grow. At this stage, the court is focusing on administrative protocols, which is the usual practice in mass tort litigations. One issue being addressed is the ‘plaintiff fact sheet.” These are written discovery devices served on each plaintiff. Defendants relish in making these as long and as detailed as possible. At present, Johnson & Johnson has sought to make them 30 pages long, as opposed to plaintiffs requesting on a simple one page form. The likely result will be in the area of twenty pages. We are currently providing Pinnacle clients with the ASR PFS as we believe they will be similar.

We expect administrative matters to take up much of the Court’s time for the rest of 2012, with the real litigation heating up in early 2013. We hope that early ASR trials will be successful and generate good results for the Pinnacle litigation.

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