DePuy ASR Hip Implant Lawsuit Plaintiffs Want to Depose New CEO

Plaintiffs are seeking to depose the new DePuy CEO in a DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuit. DePuy is a unit of health care giant, Johnson & Johnson and has been embroiled in a variety of lawsuits over its defective hip devices.

As we’ve long explained, DePuy recalled its ASR Hip Resurfacing System and ASR Acetabular System after National Joint Registry of England and Wales data showed that 1 out of every 8 patients (12%-13%) who had received the devices needed revision surgery within five years. A total of 93,000 implants were sold worldwide, including 37,000 in the U.S.

The plaintiffs, led by Moira Jackson, want Alex Gorsky to be compelled to be deposed in the case being held in Delaware state courts. Gorsky took over as lead official at Johnson & Johnson in April, said Mass Device. Before taking on the chief role there, Gorsky was worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson’s medical devices segment.

“Gorsky directly oversaw J&J subsidiaries (and co-defendants) DePuy Orthopedics Inc. and DePuy International Ltd., and was directly involved in decision-making concerning the DePuy ASR device at the center of this suit,” court documents state. “As a result of Mr. Gorsky’s apparent role in decision-making on the testing, study, complaint-investigation, continued sale, and subsequent recall of the DePuy ASR device, he has relevant knowledge regarding the subject matter of this litigation, the discovery of which is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.”

According to Johnson & Johnson, the plaintiffs’ move is a “fishing expedition,” and noting that it made available 43 witness for the deposition along with provided a copious amount of documents, said Mass Device. “Plaintiffs do not need Mr. Gorsky’s testimony to establish their case; indeed, any information he may relay can be gleaned from the dozens of witnesses with first-hand knowledge of the design, marketing and safety of the device at issue or the millions of pages of documents that defendants are producing,” the documents state. “If plaintiffs cannot make their case from this mountain of evidence, they never will.”

Executives from DePuy Orthopaedics—eight current and former—were previously ordered to testify in another case, a multi-district litigation concerning ASR metal-on-metal hip implants. Court documents state that the following executives are expected to be deposed: Tom Camino, DePuy’s worldwide hip development director; manager of clinical research, Rodrigo Diaz; DePuy Int’l. Ltd. international hip business marketing director of marketing, Paul Kurring; Matt Reimink, manager of development; Mary Stewart of DePuy International Ltd.’s R&D unit; and the director of biostatistics & data management Paul Voorhorst, wrote Mass Device.

The first DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuit was filed a few months before the recall, in June 2010, by a Florida woman, according to a prior Mass Device report. Days later, three California lawsuits were filed. Since, the DePuy ASR hip replacement device has been named in some 8,000 product liability claims; more lawsuits are being filed nearly daily and complaints allege that the metal-on-metal hip replacements can shed dangerous amounts of chromium and cobalt into patients’ bloodstreams, leading to a number of serious health problems, including pain, swelling, and dislocation, as well as metallosis, a reaction that results in tissue and bone loss; the formation of pseudotumors; and long-term heart, kidney, nerve, and thyroid problems.

Some 6,000 claims have been consolidated in a federal multidistrict litigation before the Honorable Judge David Katz in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio. The first bellwether trials in that litigation are scheduled to start on May 6, 2013 and July 8, 2013. Another 2,000 complaints are pending in various state courts around the country and earlier this month, DePuy and Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle three Nevada state claims for a total of $600,000. An expert interviewed by Bloomberg News asserted that the settlements were at the low end of what plaintiffs could expect, and speculated that most settlements will range from $200,000 to $500,000 per plaintiff.

Johnson & Johnson disclosed in January that it set aside $800 million to cover legal issues connected to the DePuy ASR device. Many legal observers believe, however, that the company could end up paying as much as $2 billion to resolve the lawsuits.

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