DePuy Pinnacle Hip Lawsuits Consolidated in Texas

The DePuy Pinnacle is a metal-on-metal hip implant similar in design to the DePuy ASR hip implant, the headline-making device that was recalled last August over unusually high early failure rates. Like the DePuy ASR device, the Pinnacle hip implant is the subject of numerous lawsuits. This week, a federal panel of judges decided to consolidate <"">DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits in a multidistrict litigation and transfer them to federal court in Texas.

Concerns have been growing for some time that these metal-on-metal hip implant devices may shed small metal particles as components rub against each other. This can cause tissue breakdown, bone loss, and the formation of non-cancerous tumors. The shedding of metal shavings can also cause cobalt poisoning, a disorder that, if left untreated, can put patients at risk of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo, deafness, blindness, optic nerve atrophy, convulsions, headaches, peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, and hypothyroidism. Some patients with metal-on-metal hip implants may develop an inflammatory reaction known as metallosis.

In October, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons issued a warning about the devices, and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently launched a website to provide information about metal-on-metal hip implants and their potential problems.

An increasing number of lawsuits involving the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant have been filed in recent months, many alleging problems that sound familiar to anyone following DePuy ASR hip implant recalls. Many lawsuits contend the DePuy Pinnacle should have been subject to a recall, much like the one DePuy issued for its ASR hip implant devices last August.

Recently, a motion was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all pending and future federal DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits in a multidistrict litigation (MDL), and possibly make them a part of the DePuy ASR hip implant litigation that has already been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The DePuy Pinnacle hip implant litigation has the potential to become just as large as that surrounding the DePuy ASR device.

Now, about 57 product liability lawsuits filed against DePuy Orthopaedics over its Pinnacle device have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for Northern Texas for a single MDL. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated the cases on the grounds that the grouping involves similar claims

The Pinnacle device was on the market for years prior to DePuy’s ASR implant and the lawsuits allege the increased risk for adverse reactions and that these issues make the Pinnacle likelier to undergo premature failure.

According to one DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuit, filed in early December in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the plaintiff underwent six surgeries due to metal poisoning sustained as a result of a Pinnacle hip implant he received in 2007. A second suit filed in November in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California alleges that another Pinnacle recipient suffered abnormal gait, nerve pain, and other problems since receiving the device in 2004. That plaintiff is soon to undergo revision surgery. Most recently, a Tennessee man filed suit over a DePuy Pinnacle hip implant he received in May 2009. According to that lawsuit, the plaintiff was forced to undergo revision surgery less than one year later, after the acetabular component of the left hip loosened due to friction and natural biologic corrosion. Even though his implant was replaced, the plaintiff is still unable to walk without the use of a cane.

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