Health care giant Johnson & Johnson has agreed to settle a bellwether case that is part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) organized in California state court. The settlement occurred days before the case was to reach a jury,
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a January 2013 safety alert concerning metal-on-metal hip implants, indicating that, as a class, the devices have failed; most have been recalled and are the focus of major litigation; and adverse events experienced by people implanted with metal-on-metal hip devices may include:
- Hip dislocation
- Bone fracture
- Joint infection
- Local nerve damage, numbness/weakness
- Device loosening, breakage
- Difference in leg lengths
- Osteolysis (bone loss)
The FDA noted that patients should be aware of some possible symptoms that could manifest after about three months, which include pain in the groin, hip, or leg; swelling at or near the hip joint; a limp; a change in ambulation; and noises such as popping, grinding, clicking, or squeaking that emanate from the joint.
In this case, the male plaintiff alleged that DePuy Orthopaedics, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, was aware that the device was defective, yet sold the device in spite of the damaging information, according to MassDevice.com. The plaintiff underwent revision surgery to replace the DePuy ASR XL implant in November 2011 after the device’s acetabular cup “detached, disconnected, created metallic debris, and/or loosened from patient’s acetabulum,” according to court documents, MassDevice.com reported. “On or before August 2008, the date of plaintiff’s hip replacement surgery, defendants knew or should have known that the ASR system was failing and causing serious complications after implantation in many patients,” court documents also indicate.
A jury trial was scheduled to begin on Octobe15; however, Johnson & Johnson agreed to a conditional settlement for an undisclosed amount; the final agreement is scheduled to be reached before December 1st, according to court documents, MassDevice.com wrote.
“Settlements, especially of bellwether trials, are generally encouraging,” said Daniel C. Burke, Senior Litigation Counsel at Parker Waichman LLP.
In August 2012, the first DePuy ASR trial settled before going to trial. This March, a jury awarded another plaintiff $8.3 million after determining the device was defectively designed and, in April, a jury found for DePuy in another case, according to MassDevice.com. Plaintiffs in seven other lawsuits brought over the DePuy ASR can now add claims concerning the Pinnacle, another state judge ruled.