Medical Dangers in Defective Hips

Recent settlements for undisclosed amounts in two product liability cases against Johnson & Johnson for the DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant represent the tip of the iceberg of what could eventually cost the medical supplies giant billions of dollars. The cases of Robert Ottman filed in California and MacDonald etal filed in New Jersey against DePuy Orthopedics Inc., both scheduled to be heard in court in mid-October had been settled out of court. It is speculated that DePuy owner J&J may shell out as much as $3 billion to the more than 11,000 plaintiffs who have filed individual and consolidated cases for the defective medical device.

The flurry of litigation followed closely upon the August 2010 recall of the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received more than 400 complaints from patients who had received the hip implants. After steadfastly denying that the medical devices were defective despite the fact that 12% of the hip-implant recipients needed revision surgery, an unusually high failure rate, J&J finally recalled the products 18 months after the first lawsuit was filed in June 2010.

Medical dangers associated with the hip implants included metallosis, the subsequent deposit of metal fragments in soft tissue that resulted from the metal-on-mental friction of the implants. These personal injuries resulted from a defect in the product’s design, which could lead to the misalignment or loosening of the components. Infections, bone fractures, necrosis, bone staining, swelling and pain are just a few of the side effects of the device, classifying the cases as product liability cases rather than medical malpractice. Plaintiffs allege that DePuy had known of the defects of the products long before the first complaints were made to the FDA but concealed this knowledge from surgeons and patients.

The recall involved 93,000 implant units, 37,000 of which were in the US. It is anticipated that more cases would be forthcoming. The statute of limitations for product liability cases vary from state to state. Inquire with a lawyer in your state about your legal options if you or a family member has suffered from the hidden medical dangers of your DePuy hip implant.

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