By: Irvin Jackson | Published: January 21st, 2013
As the start of the first DePuy ASR trial approaches this week, reports indicate that Johnson & Johnson has offered to pay more than $200,000 to settle each lawsuit brought by individuals who received the recalled metal-on-metal hip replacement.
More than 10,000 people have filed a DePuy ASR hip lawsuit after experiencing problems with their artificial hip, including loosening of the components and other complications that often result in the need for revision surgery to replace the implant.
According to a report by Bloomberg News, sources confirm that Johnson & Johnson has offered to pay an average of more than $200,000 a case to resolve the litigation. However, attorneys involved in the lawsuits have rejected the DePuy ASR settlement offers so far, indicating that the offers do not provide sufficient compensation for injuries caused by the recalled hip implant.
The DePuy ASR is a metal-on-metal hip replacement system that was recalled in August 2010, after Johnson & Johnson acknowledged that about one out of every 8 implants were failing within five years. However, subsequent reports have suggested that the DePuy ASR hip failure rates are substantially higher than the manufacturer estimated.
Featuring an all-metal chromium and cobalt design, problems with the DePuy ASR hip may occur as microscopic metal particles are released into the body when the metal parts rub against each other. This could resulted in metal blood poisoning or metallosis, which increases the risk of the device loosening or failing, according to allegations raised in lawsuits filed by individuals throughout the United States.
DePuy ASR Hip Lawsuits Heading To Trial
Reports on the potential DePuy ASR hip settlement offers come as the parties are preparing for the first case in the country to go before a jury in California state court.
Trial is set to begin on Tuesday in the Los Angeles Superior Court for a lawsuit brought by Loren and Sheryl Kransky, which was scheduled for an expedited trial date because Loren is suffering a terminal cancer. The case will involve dozens of witnesses and will be closely followed by all lawyers involved in the lawsuits to gauge how the jury responds to certain evidence that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
A second DePuy ASR case is scheduled for trial to begin in February in Illinois state court in Chicago, with the first federal lawsuit over the recalled implant set to begin in May in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.
All federal lawsuits over the DePuy ASR hip implant have been consolidated and centralized for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. The litigation is centralized before U.S. District Judge David Katz in the Nothern District of Ohio to reduce duplicative discovery and avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings in cases throughout the country.
If Johnson & Johnson does not reach an agreement to settle DePuy ASR lawsuits following a series of early trial dates, it is likely Judge Katz will consider remanding thousands of cases back to U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for separate trial dates.
Concerns Over All Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements
The DePuy ASR hip recall has set off substantial concerns within the medical community about the safety of metal-on-metal hip replacements, which have grown in popularity over the past decade, despite a lack of studies on the long-term effects of the implants.
The FDA launched an investigation into the safety of metal-on-metal hips in May 2011, and an independent advisory panel convened by the agency in June 2012 found that there was little, if any, benefit provided by using the metal-on-metal design over older implants that feature plastic or ceramic components.
The FDA issued an updated safety communication last week, providing doctors with new guidance on the risk of sofe tissue damage and other complications that may result from metal-on-metal hip replacements. The agency advised doctors that the risks with all metal implants are unique and the implants should be considered a device of last resort.
In addition to the recalled DePuy ASR hips, a number of individuals have filed hip replacement lawsuits after experiencing similar problems with other metal-on-metal implants, including the DePuy Pinnacle hip, Biomet M2A-Magnum hip and Wright Conserve hip.