Another DePuy ASR Lawsuit Settles Right Before Trial Set to Begin

It appears that Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary has agreed to settle another lawsuit over their recalled ASR hip replacement, once again reaching a resolution only days before trial was scheduled to begin.  

Nearly 12,000 DePuy ASR lawsuits are pending in state and federal courts throughout the country involving allegations that design defects with the metal-on-metal hip replacement increased the risk that users would experience problems with their artificial hip within a few years after it is implanted.

DePuy recalled their ASR hip implanted in August 2010, amid reports that suggested a higher-than-expected number were failing during the first five years. As the first trials approach in state and federal courts, at least two case have now resolved for undisclosed amounts.

A complaint filed by Debora MacDonald was scheduled for trial to begin on October 21 in New Jersey state court, where cases are centralized for coordinated proceedings as part of an MCL or Multi-County Litigation.

According to a Case Management Order (PDF) issued by New Jersey Judge Brian R. Martinotti, the parties have informed the court that the MacDonald case “has been resolved,” resulting in the cancellation of the upcoming trial date.

Earlier this month, a similar DePuy ASR settlement agreement was reported in California state court, where a complaint filed by Robert Eugene Ottman was also set for trial to begin in late October.

Details have not been reported for the terms of either settlement.

DePuy ASR Settlement Negotiations and Early Trials

Prior reports have suggested that Johnson & Johnson was considering an offer of more than $3 billion to settle the DePuy ASR litigation, which would average out to about $300,000 per case. According to a report by Bloomberg News in January 2013, plaintiffs previously rejected an offer that averaged about $200,000 per case because it did not provide sufficient compensation for injuries caused by the recalled hip implant.

While thousands of cases are pending, a small number of lawsuits have been set for early trial dates in state and federal courts to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout a large number of claims.

Earlier this year, a California jury awarded $8.3 million in damages in one case. However, a second trial held in Illinois state court resulted in a defense verdict for the manufacturer.

In the federal court system, all DePuy ASR lawsuits are consolidated for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge David A. Katz in the Northern District of Ohio, where the first “bellwether” trials are expected to begin in January 2014. That case was originally set to begin in September, but has been postponed at least two times, leading to speculation that the parties may be considering a settlement.

In New Jersey state court, the next DePuy ASR trial is also expected to begin in January 2014, involving a consolidated trial for two different individuals who have experienced similar problems following DePuy hip replacement surgery.

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