DePuy Hip Implant Lawsuits Head to Federal Court in Ohio

<"">DePuy Hip Replacement lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Ohio in Toledo. The lawsuits, known collectively as the DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation (MDL 2197), will be supervised by US District Judge David A. Katz.

In August,J&J issued a worldwide DePuy recall of the ASR XL Acetabular System, a hip socket used in traditional hip replacement, and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, a partial hip replacement that involves placing a metal cap on the ball of the femur. The recall was issued after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales showed that 1 out of every 8 patients (12%-13%) who had received the recalled devices had to undergo revision surgery within five years of receiving it. A hip implant should last for 15 years or so.

Since it was introduced in 2003, DePuy has sold nearly 100,000 units of its ASR XL Acetabular Hip System, which was designed for younger and more active patients. A metal-on-metal hip implant made of chromium and cobalt, the device consists of a cup that’s implanted into the hip with a ball joint that connects to the leg. It is believed that many of the complications linked to the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular hip implant are caused by wearing of the metal components, which can allow metal shavings to make their way into patients’ bloodstreams.

According to a report by ABC News, the resulting metal poisoning could increase the risk of a number of health problems, including dementia and heart failure. DePuy now recommends that implant patients have a blood test to check for high levels of chromium and cobalt.

According to report from Bloomberg News, around 150 federal lawsuits are pending against DePuy, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, over the recalled ASR hip implant. However, plaintiffs’ attorneys believe thousands of such lawsuits could eventually be filed against the device maker.

In its Transfer Order creating the DePuy hip implant MDL, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said the consolidation “will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.”

A consolidation allows all DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuits to be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses and the court. When lawsuits are consolidated, each retains its own identity. If the MDL process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial.

According to Bloomberg, Judge Katz has previous experience overseeing this type of mass litigation. Recently, he supervised hundreds of lawsuits filed by women who blamed their blood clots, heart attacks or strokes on Ortho Evra birth-control patches, also made by a unit of Johnson & Johnson.

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