DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. recently announced a $2.5 billion settlement to resolve most of the litigation over its recalled hip implants, but some lawyers are raising concerns about the thousands of patients excluded from the deal and about the process that determines compensation.
The settlement resolves about 8,000 lawsuits filed nationwide against DePuy, a unit of Johnson & Johnson. DePuy agreed to provide a $2.475 billion cash fund to compensate patients for costs associated with “revision surgeries,” to remove and replace its ASR devices, The National Law Journal reports. Plaintiffs claimed the devices caused pain, clicking, and grinding of the hips, and high metal content in their blood.
The settlement, which was announced November 19 at a hearing in Toledo before U.S. District Judge David Katz, also includes up to $1 billion to reimburse insurance firms that paid for the surgeries. But about 4,000 plaintiffs will not be eligible to participate in the settlement. For the settlement to go forward, at least 94 percent of eligible patients must submit claims. DePuy can walk away from the settlement if too many people opt out.
Each participant could receive a $250,000 base payment to cover the costs of the surgery and pain and suffering, according to The National Law Journal. Payouts could be reduced based on number of factors, including age and weight, smoking, and other medical history. The payout could be increased if a plaintiff suffered extraordinary injuries.
Critics contend that the compensation system is unclear. Plaintiffs who lost their jobs because of problems with the implant or during recovery from surgery want to know if lost wages are covered. Plaintiffs who had surgery after the August 31, 2013 deadline want to know if they will be included. One attorney is concerned about a client whose hip was too damaged for revision surgery and must now use a wheelchair, The National Law Journal reports.