First Settlement Reported in DePuy ASR Hip Implant Lawsuit

The first DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuit scheduled to go to trial in Nevada state court has been settled.  According to a report from Mass Device, the lawsuit, which was filed by three recipients of the metal-on-metal DePuy ASR hip replacement device who had to undergo revision surgery, had been scheduled to go to trial this December in Nevada’s 8th Judicial District Court.

DePuy Orthopaedics’ ASR Hip Resurfacing System and ASR Acetabular System were named in a global recall in August 2010. 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 devices had to undergo revision surgery within five years. A total of 93,000 implants were sold worldwide, including 37,000 in the U.S.

Since then thousands of people throughout the U.S. have filed lawsuits against DePuy Orthopaedics’ and its parent, Johnson & Johnson, alleging their ASR hip implant failed prematurely, leading to persistent pain and inflammation, revision surgeries, and/or a toxic accumulation of the metals cobalt and chromium.  The companies are facing around 4,000 such lawsuits in the DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2197) currently underway in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio.  Last month, U.S. District Judge David Katz scheduled the first bellwether trials in the litigation for May 6, 2013 and July 8, 2013.

At least 2,000 DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuits were also pending in state courts throughout the U.S.  Another state lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in January 2013 in Maryland’s Circuit Court for Prince George’s County.  That case also involves three ASR hip implant recipients who had their implant replaced.

No details have been released regarding the DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuit settlement in Nevada.  Generally, the terms of such settlements do remain confidential.

The DePuy ASR hip implant is just one of several metal-on-metal hip implants that have raised safety concerns in recent years.  In June, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) revealed that it had received 16,800 negative event reports involving metal hips between 2000 and 2011. Of those, more than 14,000 involved revision surgeries, in which a defective implant was removed.  During a meeting of FDA advisors that same month, the panel determined that there existed few good reasons for the continuing use of metal-on-metal hip implants. Since the DePuy ASR hip implant was recalled in 2010, several studies have found that 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.

DePuy has also been named in some 1,800 additional lawsuits in a federal multidistrict in Texas alleging a metal-on-metal version of its Pinnacle hip implant device has caused problems similar to those seen with the DePuy ASR hip replacement.  In February, a multidistrict litigation was established in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for lawsuits involving the all-metal Wright Conserve Hip Replacement System. Several lawsuits are also pending in the U.S. over Biomet metal-on-metal hip implants.

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