By: Irvin Jackson | Published: March 4th, 2013
A California state court jury will begin deliberations this week, following a month of testimony in the first trial over a recalled DePuy ASR hip replacement, which is the subject of thousands of product liability lawsuits filed on behalf of individuals nationwide who received the metal-on-metal implant before it was removed from the market in 2010.
Attorneys for both sides presented closing arguments on Friday, with attorneys for plaintiff Loren Kransky arguing that the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics put the ASR XL metal-on-metal hip replacement system on the market despite knowing that it was defective and posed a potential health risk.
According to evidence presented at trial, Kransky claims that the defective design for the DePuy hip caused the release of microscopic metal particles into the body, eventually causing the artificial hip to loosen and fail, resulting in the need for revision surgery.
Attorneys for Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary have attempted to argue that the cause of Kransky’s hip problems was an infection, and that despite test results indicate the levels of metal in his blood were eight times what is considered safe, there was no signs that he was poisoned or injured by the metal fragments shed by the ASR hip implant.
Johns & Johnson and DePuy Faces More Than 10,000 ASR Hip Lawsuits
Kransky’s case is the first of more than 10,000 lawsuits over the recalled DePuy ASR hip to reach a jury, and the case has been closely followed by product liability lawyers involved in the litigation, as the outcome may indicate how juries are likely to respond to similar evidence and testimony that will be offered throughout the litigation.
Johnson & Johnson issued a DePuy ASR hip recall in August 2010, after an analysis of data from a British implant registry suggested that users may face a failure rate as high as 13%. Later analyses have scaled that up significantly, with some estimating about 30% of all DePuy ASR artificial hips will fail in the first six years.
Prior to removing the DePuy ASR hip from the market, more than 90,000 implants had already been sold throughout the world.
Kransky’s attorneys put witnesses on the stand who used to work for DePuy that testified that the company had data showing high failure rates for years. In closing arguments, they accused Johnson and Johnson of playing “Russian Roulette” with patients and called the recall a public health disaster. Kransky is asking for $5 million in compensatory damages and tens of millions in punitive damages.
The case was given an expedited trial date under a special provision in California law, due to Kransky’s grave health. Another individual who filed a DePuy hip lawsuit in California, Michael Cham, has asked San Francisco Superior to grant his case an early trial date as well due to health reasons.
Oher Companies Face Metal-on-Metal Hip Lawsuits
In addition to lawsuits over the DePuy ASR, other metal-on-metal hip designs have been the focus on large numbers of complaints, including the DePuy Pinnacle hip, Biomet M2A Magnum hip and Wright Medical Conserve Cup.
In January, the FDA released new guidance for metal-on-metal hip replacements. The agency told doctors that metal-on-metal hip replacement systems should only be used if other artificial hip implants were not appropriate, and called on manufacturers to prove that their implants were safe enough to stay on the market. Future metal-on-metal hip designs will have to undergo extensive human clinical trials before being made available for sale, the FDA decreed.