DePuy ASR Case Ends in Confidential Settlement

DePuy hip implant attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm announce that Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopedics recently entered into a confidential settlement with a patient injured by its metal-on-metal hip implant, known as the ASR. The bellwether case settled two weeks before trial was scheduled to begin.

A bellwether trial is often used in large-scale, mass litigation to determine trends in future litigation. It is comparable to focus groups for marketing departments or clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies. Lawyers and judges use bellwether trials when there is a large number of plaintiffs all alleging the same claims, in this case that the DePuy ASR was defective and caused injuries, to determine how the rest of the lawsuits will play out in court.

Most lawsuits use about three to five plaintiffs to represent the class, though the judge may always order more. The first-ever case against DePuy’s ASR concluded in March 2013, when a judge ordered the company to pay $8.3 million in damages to the plaintiff who argued his injuries were caused by the all-metal implant.

After that case it became clear that litigation against DePuy over the ASR implant would range into the thousands, and bellwether trials were scheduled to begin in September. The first bellwether was delayed, however, due to unresolved issues in discovery. The recently settled case was the second scheduled bellwether.

The plaintiff, Robert Ottman, underwent a total hip replacement in August 2008 using DePuy’s ASR, however, the implant caused him immense pain and he had extreme difficulty with mobility. In November 2011, Ottman was told he would have to undergo an expensive and painful revision surgery because the device had failed.

One year before his revision surgery, in August 2010, DePuy recalled its ASR implants for this very reason. It was failing in unprecedented high rates, despite only being on the market for five years. The recall was spurred by data from the United Kingdom indicating that revision surgery rates were unacceptably high.

Now, there are more than 11,000 lawsuits filed by ASR patients in the United States alleging pain, swelling, mobility problems, unnecessary surgeries and metal poisoning from the implants. Metal-on-metal implants such as the ASR (there are many models of all-metal implants made by several different companies, such as Stryker, Smith & Nephew, and Zimmer) can release toxic amounts of metal ions into the bloodstream during normal daily activities, resulting in metallosis, or metal toxicity.

Metallosis can lead to muscle and cell death around the implant site as well as breakage of the hip implant’s components, which can itself lead to long-term complications in the patient. In one case, a 42-year-old healthy woman underwent hip resurfacing in March 2005 using Smith & Nephew’s Birmingham metal-on-metal implant.

After four years, she started feeling discomfort and instability in her hip. Six months after that, she was referred to an orthopedic surgeon due to visibly aggressive implant destruction, metallosis, and pain. The Birmingham implant is made of cobalt and chromium, and the woman’s blood levels of these metals was grossly elevated. During surgery, physicians discovered extensive erosion around the cervical neck and massive aggressive metallosis in and around her hip joint.

After surgeons removed the implant they saw that most of her bone around the implant site was destroyed and had to perform extensive bone grafting. They then implanted her with a plastic hip device. There have been many studies on the prevalence of metallosis and revision surgeries of this type, and, unfortunately, revisions of metal-on-metal implants typically have poor outcomes.

Metal-on-metal hip implant lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have extensive experience working on these types of cases, and have won millions for our injured clients. If you or a loved one was implanted with an all-metal hip device and experienced any type of injury from it, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your medical bills and lost wages, and should contact a skilled hip implant attorney for a free legal consultation.