In trial opening, lawyer alleges Johnson & Johnson failed to warn about hip implant risks
Johnson & Johnson failed to warn of the risks of defective metal hip implants it pulled from the market, a plaintiff’s lawyer told a Los Angeles jury in the first of 10,000 lawsuits over the device to go to trial.
Loren Kransky, a retired prison guard who got an ASR XL hip implant in 2007, sued in state court in 2011 and had the device replaced last year. J&J, the world’s biggest seller of health- care products, stopped sales in August 2010 after citing U.K. joint registry data showing more than 12 percent failed within five years.
“The ASR XL was dangerous and it was defective in design and we will prove it,” Michael Kelly, Kransky’s lawyer, said today in his opening statement. “This hip, this medical implant, incorporated dangers to an extent beyond what any reasonable doctor would have anticipated or expected.”
Lawyers for patients claim that debris from the metal ball sliding against the metal cup causes tissue death around the joint and boosts metal ions in the bloodstream to harmful levels. Patients who sued cite pain and say they are immobilized by joint dislocations, infections and bone fractures. Analysts estimate that the litigation could cost J&J billions of dollars.
J&J and its DePuy Orthopaedics unit deny Kransky’s claims, including failure to warn, defective design and negligent recall.
“DePuy believes the evidence to be presented at this trial will show the company acted appropriately and responsibly,” Mindy Tinsley, a company spokeswoman, said in a statement.
J&J faced 10,100 lawsuits through September, according to a regulatory filing. Most pretrial collection of evidence is consolidated in federal court in Toledo, Ohio, where 7,240 cases are pending, and California state court in San Francisco, where more than 2,000 cases are filed. Other cases were filed in state courts around the U.S.
The company said in January 2012 that it had spent about $800 million on hip recalls during the prior two years. J&J didn’t provide an estimate of its product-liability costs.
J&J offered to pay more than $200,000 a case to settle most of the 10,000 lawsuits, according to five people familiar with the matter. The deal’s cost could exceed $2 billion if most plaintiffs accept the terms. Lawyers for hip recipients have so far rejected the offer, the people said.