All lawsuits over recalled DePuy ASR hip replacements filed in New Jersey state court have been centralized under one judge for pretrial discovery and management during pretrial litigation.
The New Jersey Supreme Court stopped short of designating the DePuy ASR hip lawsuits filed in the state as a “mass tort”, instead opting for centralized management in an April 12 order, which will mean a coordinated discovery process under one judge.
A growing number of complaints have been filed throughout the United States since a recall of DePuy ASR hip systems was issued last summer.
In a request for centralized management of the New Jersey state court litigation filed in December 2010, lawyers for Johnson & Johnson and their DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary indicated that they expect a large number of lawsuit filings in New Jersey, which is the corporate headquarters for Johnson & Johnson.
In a Notice to the Bar issued last week, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ordered that all pending and future New Jersey state court lawsuits seeking damages from the use of a DePuy ASR hip replacement will be assigned for centralized case management purposes before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in the Superior Court of Bergen County.
Judge Martinotti will oversee management and trial issues in the cases, which all involve allegations that the DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant was defectively designed, increasing the risk of early failure and metal hip poisoning from microscopic shavings that are released into the body as the metal parts rub against each other.
More than 90,000 DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Systems and DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems were sold before the hip replacements were recalled in August 2010. The manufacturers have acknowledged that data so far has shown about 12% to 13% of these hips may fail within five years. However, as individuals with one of the recalled hip replacements continue to be monitored by their doctors, it is expected that the DePuy ASR failure rate will eventually be much higher.
In addition to the claims in New Jersey, hundreds of individual DePuy ASR hip recall lawsuit filings in federal courts throughout the United States have been consolidated as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio under Judge David A. Katz.
All parties in the New Jersey lawsuits are expected to appear at an initial conference on May 10 to discuss the status of the discovery process and other aspects of the lawsuits. The New Jersey cases will be coordinated with each other, federal lawsuits and a number of lawsuits in California to avoid duplicate discovery.