J&J Potentially Settling 1,000 Hip Implant Lawsuits for $250 Million

Johnson & Johnson may be settling another 1,000 ASR hip implant lawsuits for $250 million. J&J already settled 8,000 lawsuits filed on behalf of ASR patients who had the recalled implant removed earlier than last summer by agreeing to pay $250,000 per surgery and related medical expenses. According to Bloomberg, two people familiar with the litigation said that the company is weighing whether to offer the same settlement terms for another 1,000 cases.

“This is a sign that J&J is trying to get a solid handle on its whole ASR problem,” a professor of product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia told Bloomberg. “They are not done paying yet, but they are moving in the right direction.” J&J will have resolved roughly 75 percent of ASR litigation in the United States if they move forward with the settlement. According to the professor, the company may end up paying over $4 billion by the time all the cases are resolved.

The ASR hip implant was recalled by J&J and its subsidiary DePuy in August 2010. At the time of the recall, the reported failure rate was 12 percent in five years. However, internal documents placed the failure rate at 37 percent in 4.6 years. The hips were found to fail at a rate of 44 percent over seven years in Australia.

DePuy’s ASR, or articular surface replacements, are metal-on-metal hip implants. When first introduced in 2005, they were marketed as being more durable compared to older metal-on-plastic designs. Over the years, however, patients reported pain, dislocations and other complications that ultimately prompted the need for revision surgeries, where the hips are removed. The flawed devices also cause chromium and cobalt ions to be released into the bloodstream, patients alleged.

Last year, an official said that the recall has costed J&J about $1 billion. An August filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission showed that 12,700 ASR hip implant lawsuits were filed in federal court as well as state courts in Ohio, California, Illinois and New Jersey. People familiar with the litigation told Bloomberg that roughly 3,000 of these cases are filed on behalf of patients who have not yet experienced implant failure.
The potential settlement extension would give patients additional time to sue if their implants fail in the future, the people said. The easing of procedural deadlines is contingent upon people dismissing their cases if they have not yet undergone revision surgery. U.S. District Judge David Katz in Toledo said plaintiffs would have a year from the time of future revision surgeries to refile their lawsuit.

Last year, an ASR lawsuit that went to trial resulted in an $8.3 million verdict. A California jury found that the hip was defectively designed and that DePuy failed to warn about the risks.

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