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As more and more DePuy ASR hip replacements fail and require revision surgery, the manufacturer has agreed to add another 1,400 claims to a settlement agreement reached in late 2013, extending the deal to include recalled ASR implants that were revised as of January 31, 2015.
Johnson & Johnson and their DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary previously agreed to settle about 8,000 ASR cases brought on behalf of individuals whose hip replacement failed and had to be removed prior to August 31, 2013. However, the agreement left several thousand DePuy ASR hip lawsuits unresolved.
In a joint status report (PDF) filed on February 20, lawyers involved in the cases informed the U.S. District Judge presiding over the federal litigation that an agreement has been reached that effectively extends the settlement program to include U.S. citizens or residents who received an ASR hip and had revision surgery on or before January 31, 2015.
Under terms of the original agreement, plaintiffs will receive an average payment of $250,000 for pain and suffering, with certain factors impacting the base settlement, including the age of the plaintiff, the length of time the implant was in place, the weight of the plaintiff, whether they were a smoker and other circumstances. Individuals who suffered “extraordinary injuries”, including complications associated with the revision surgery, can also obtain additional compensation and all medical expenses will be covered by the manufacturer.
Even after the settlements, there are thousands of people throughout the U.S. who still have a DePuy ASR hip in their body. The implant was recalled in August 2010, due to a high rate of failures associated with the metal-on-metal design, which releases microscopic metallic debris into the body as the components rub against each other during normal use.
DePuy Pinnacle Hip Lawsuits Continue
While Johnson & Johnson appears to be working to settle revised DePuy ASR hip lawsuits, the manufacturer is continuing to defend thousands of cases involving problems stemming from the DePuy Pinnacle hip, which is an older model that features a substantially similar metal-on-metal design.
There are currently more than 6,500 DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits pending throughout the country, which all involve similar allegations that the metal-on-metal configuration of the popular implant is prone to early failure, requiring plaintiffs to undergo risky revision surgery.
In the federal court system, all complaints involving problems with DePuy Pinnacle implants are centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas under U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade as part of a multidistrict lawsuit (MDL).
In an order (PDF) issued February 18, Judge Kinkeade identified ten different cases that have been selected to be prepared for early trial dates. Known as “bellwether” cases, the trials are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
While the outcomes of any bellwether trials will not be binding on other claims, they may influence any eventual DePuy Pinnacle settlements that may be reached by the manufacturer.