Hip replacement surgery is incredibly common. In fact, it is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States. The frequency is projected to rapidly increase as baby boomers age and seek an improved quality of life.
While hip replacement patients often expect a period of discomfort or pain while recovering from the surgery, they then expect to move on and have years of improved mobility before worrying about their hip replacement. This is unfortunately not true for patients who receive a defective device. Instead of years of improved quality of life, they face continued pain and additional surgery. This has been the case for many patients who received a hip replacement device manufactured by DePuy Orthopedics.
If you or a loved one received a hip replacement device manufactured by DePuy Orthopedics that has caused unnecessary pain and suffering, contact the attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today. Our experienced attorneys work with our clients to understand the facts of their case and to develop a case strategy based on their individual needs.
Read on for information about prior legal action against DePuy for its defective hip replacement products, why patients should be concerned if they have received a metal-on-metal (MoM) hip replacement device, and how to recover if you have received a defective MoM device.
DePuy Hip Replacement Recalls and Litigation
Close to seven million Americans are currently living with a hip or knee replacement. This number is only expected to grow. In fact, the number of hip replacement surgeries is expected to increase by more than 170 percent by 2030.
This has prompted prosthetics manufacturers to rush to market largely untested and sometimes dangerous hip replacement devices that have caused far worse problems than they were ostensibly designed to solve.
DePuy Orthopedics is a division of Johnson & Johnson and has faced numerous lawsuits regarding its Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) and Pinnacle hip implants. In 2010, the company announced a recall of its DePuy ASR hip replacement implants. The recall affected approximately 93,000 individual devices and was focused on the company's ASR XL Acetabular Systems and ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems.
Evidence suggested that DePuy failed to conduct sufficient testing of the problematic devices. Instead, it went to market based on 510(k) clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which relies on the fact that a device is the substantial equivalent of an older, previously approved device. Securing FDA clearance, however, does not relieve a company of its obligations to the end consumer, including the requirement to adequately test and design a safe product.
The record suggests that DePuy knew about the problems caused by its devices for years but took no action to warn consumers or pull the devices from the market. These claims are supported by internal company documents. Evidence also suggests that surgeons told the company to stop selling ASR hip replacement devices.
ASR Cases and Settlements
In the first trial over DePuy devices, the plaintiff was awarded $8.3 million. While DePuy won the second trial, they then proceeded to settle three lawsuits for $200,000 each. In November 2013, DePuy and Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle almost 8,000 additional cases relating to its ASR device for $4 billion. In March 2015, another 1,800 cases were settled for $420 million.
Pinnacle Cases and Settlements
Nearly 10,000 lawsuits regarding the Pinnacle device were consolidated into multidistrict litigation in May 2011. While DePuy won its first trial over the device in 2014, it then lost three trials where awards totaled more than $1.7 billion. Johnson & Johnson has appealed the verdict in the second trial, and a retrial is expected. In May 2019, DePuy agreed to a settlement of nearly $1 billion to resolve approximately 6,000 additional Pinnacle lawsuits.
While numerous DePuy lawsuits have been resolved either through jury trial or settlement, there are still thousands of pending lawsuits against DePuy.
Dangers of DePuy Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement Devices
MoM devices are made with metal ball and socket components. MoM devices were first designed and introduced by manufacturers based on the assumption that the devices would offer benefits like longer duration before failure and improved stability in the joint because of the socket's larger size. Unfortunately, the increased risks of MoM devices outweighed the benefits.
Common risks of hip replacement are infection, loosening, bone loss, fracture, and dislocation. MoM devices come with additional risk factors above and beyond the normal risks. As documented by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some MoM device recipients react negatively to the metal debris created by the device, a condition called metallosis. Friction in an MoM device causes the release of metal particles into the surrounding tissue and bloodstream. If a patient reacts negatively to the release of these particles, they suffer painful symptoms.
Be sure to report any adverse reactions you have to your MoM device through the MedWatch website. Reporting ensures that the FDA is aware of and tracking the issues with your particular device.
Complications From DePuy MoM Devices
The range of symptoms and reactions depends on the patient, but the metal particles can cause damage to bone and tissue surrounding the implant and joint. Depending on the reaction, the victim might be required to undergo revision surgery to remove the implant and replace it with a new device. The last thing a patient wants after undergoing hip replacement surgery is to go back under the knife for revision surgery, which is longer and more expensive than the original surgery.
Common symptoms of a negative reaction to an MoM device include:
- After a normal recovery period, joint, hip, or leg pain;
- Hip joint swelling;
- Skin rash;
- Unnatural hip joint noise;
- Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle);
- Change in mobility;
- Changes in sensory responses;
- Psychological changes;
- Impaired kidney function;
- Thyroid dysfunction; and
Contact your doctor immediately if you think you may be experiencing a negative reaction to an MoM device. Even if your implant is not MoM, this does not mean it is immune from defect. You should still discuss any pain, discomfort, or other symptoms with your doctor.
What Should I Do if I Have a DePuy MoM Implant?
If you have a DePuy or other MoM implant, pay careful attention to any signs of irritation or reaction. See your doctor if you are experiencing unexplained pain or other symptoms. Be sure to remind your doctor that you have an MoM implant.
If your doctor confirms a negative reaction to your MoM implant, work with our lawyers to understand if the manufacturer is responsible for your injuries.
This will require a review of the evidence, including the manufacturer's:
- Failure to adequately test the device;
- Use of deceptive or inaccurate marketing;
- Insufficient warning about known dangers from using the device; and/or
- Knowledge that the device was more dangerous than other products or likely to require revision surgery.
If DePuy or another manufacturer recalled your hip implant device, you might leverage this fact to support your case. Successful lawsuits against the manufacturer for the same or a similar device model also strengthen your case.
Even if your device has not been recalled or has not been the subject of a successful lawsuit, you can still seek recovery if the manufacturer has failed to meet its obligations. Your attorney will be an important partner in gathering the evidence necessary to build a case against the manufacturer.
You will need to know:
- Your place of legal residence at the time of the implant;
- The date of hip implant surgery;
- The implant manufacturer and model;
- If you received a recall notice;
- Any results from a serum blood test identifying certain metal traces;
- Results from any MRI identifying accumulated fluid;
- Summary of symptoms experienced after hip implant surgery; and
- If you have had revision surgery or if revision surgery has been recommended by your doctor.
Your attorney can gather that information for you and develop a litigation strategy, which is particularly complicated given the historical and ongoing litigation against DePuy. First, you may need to decide whether to file an independent lawsuit against DePuy or join an existing class action lawsuit.
As you plan your case strategy, you will need to determine whether it is possible to join an existing suit and—if so—if this is the best option. The benefits are streamlined evidence collection and potentially faster resolution. You will, however, be subject to the result or settlement agreed to buy the entire class of plaintiffs. Pursuing an individual case requires more upfront work, but you and your attorney will be in complete control of your case.
Recovering for Your DePuy Hip Replacement Injuries
If you have suffered after receiving a defective hip implant device, you should not bear the costs associated with this suffering. The defendant is responsible for the damages caused by its failure to produce a safe device. Many patients only consider the immediate impact of out-of-pocket expenses, but total damages are often much more extensive.
Work with your attorney to consider all possible damages, including:
- Medical expenses: There is no doubt that the failure of a hip replacement device brings additional medical costs. This is especially true if you need revision surgery. Other medical costs to consider include emergency transportation, the cost of prescription medication, in-home care, and physical therapy. The defendant should bear the cost of medical expenses associated with the defective device.
- Lost income: A defective hip replacement device can disrupt your work life as well, forcing you to miss work, work a reduced schedule, or perform light work. The defendant may be responsible for your lost wages. If your injuries permanently restrict your ability to return to work full time or at the same capacity, include an estimate of future losses in your damages demand.
- Pain and suffering: It is not uncommon for a victim to suffer from continuous pain when living with the impacts of a defective device. Subsequent revision surgery can bring on added and continued pain and suffering for the patient. Your lawyer will work with you to quantify these damages.
- Emotional distress: Many victims of defective devices suffer from anxiety, depression, or other emotional distress for which they deserve compensation.
- Loss of enjoyment: If your continued hip pain and immobility leave you unable to enjoy activities that were previously meaningful parts of your life, you are entitled to seek compensation for this loss. These damages should be included in your lawsuit.
- Punitive/exemplary damages: Punitive damages have constituted a significant portion of the damages awarded in previous DePuy jury trials. These damages are not meant to compensate the plaintiff for injuries but instead are intended to punish the defendant for egregious behavior. The laws governing punitive damages differ from state to state and often include caps on recovery.
A comprehensive damages claim is a critical step in trial preparation, though it can take time and require the input of experts. If your case proceeds to trial, the damages demand will be analyzed by the judge or jury when awarding damages. A damages demand is also important when considering whether to join a class action lawsuit or to accept a settlement offer. The up-front time investment necessary to prepare a complete damages assessment will be incredibly beneficial as your case proceeds.
Contact Our Experienced DePuy Hip Replacement Attorneys Today
Pursuing recovery for the failure of a hip replacement device is complicated. It requires analysis of historical and ongoing litigation against the manufacturer and deciding whether to pursue an independent lawsuit or join an existing class action lawsuit. This decision requires a clear understanding of the damages you have suffered and will suffer on account of the faulty hip replacement. An experienced attorney will be a key partner in helping you navigate this complicated scenario.
The lawyers at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA understand that communication is key to a good working relationship between a client and attorney. Every member of our team is committed to zealously advocating on behalf of our clients. Our lawyers have deep experience handling complex litigation and work with each client to develop a case strategy tailored to their needs.
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