Jurors Hear Expert Testimony in DePuy Pinnacle Trial

The bellwether trial over injuries allegedly caused by the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant continues in the Northern District of Texas. For the past four weeks, jurors have been hearing arguments over whether the hip replacements are to blame for painful complications, such as metal poisoning. Federal Judge Ed Kinkeade is presiding over the case; the outcome could affect other Pinnacle lawsuits.

Metal-on-metal hip implants have become associated with high rates of failure. Even though hip replacements are supposed to last over a decade, some metal hip recipients have suffered complications much sooner and undergone a revision surgery to remove the device. DePuy came under fire in 2010 after it recalled its ASR metal-on-metal hip implants worldwide due to a high failure rate. Since then, other brands and models have been recalled. In 2013, DePuy Orthopaedics opened a settlement program to resolve ASR lawsuits.

The concern with metal-on-metal hip implants is that the devices can shed metal debris when the surfaces of the implant rub together. According to the lawsuits, this can lead to complications such as pain, implant loosening, tissue death and elevated metal ion levels (metallosis).

Several expert witnesses have been called to the stand during the trial. One of the experts is world renowned orthopedic histopathologist Dr. Nicholas Athanasou, M.D., Ph.D, who studied cellular mechanisms of bone resorption and is a professor of musculoskeletal pathology at Oxford, England. The court rejected DePuy’s attempt to stop Dr. Athanasou from using a microscope in the courtroom. A plaintiff’s wife is the next witness. A revising orthopedic surgeon for a plaintiff will also give video testimony.

Top orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bernard Morrey and his son Dr. Matt Morrey also testified in the case. Dr. Bernard Morrey, who has had over 30 years with the Mayo Clinic, told jurors he has never used metal-on-metal hip implants. Both doctors are non-retained experts for the plaintiffs. The court asked Dr. Matt Morrey to provide a report and he may be required to return for further examination.

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