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Recalled DePuy ASR Hips Found to be Defective, Jury Awards Woman $2.5M

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An Oklahoma woman has been awarded $2.5 million after suffering metal blood poisoning from DePuy ASR hip replacements, which a jury found to be defective and unreasonably dangerous. 

The verdict came in a lawsuit filed by Andrea Smith, who was received ASR hip implants on each side in October 2006 and February 2007. Smith’s lawsuit indicated that she had to undergo revision surgery to have the implants removed in 2011 and 2012, after high levels of metal ions were found in her blood.

More than 12,000 similar DePuy ASR hip lawsuits have been filed by individuals throughout the United States, following a 2010 recall that was issued due to the high risk of premature failure.

The metal-on-metal hip replacement system was removed from the market after data suggested that about one out of every eight would fail within five years. However, more recent data has suggested that the DePuy hip failure rate may ultimately be substantially higher, likely ending up in the 35% to 45% range.

All of the complaints involve similar allegations that DePuy designed and sold a defective and unreasonably dangerous hip implant. The metal-on-metal design causes the release of metallic debris into the body as the metal parts rub against each other during normal wear and tear, according to claims presented by individuals who experienced catastrophic failure of their implant.

DePuy’s attorneys argued that in Smith’s case, the problems were due to a “toe-in” gait on one side and a medical cable related to a fractured femur that had begun to fray. They argued that the DePuy ASR XL implanted in Smith was not defective.

The jury disagreed, and sided with Smith, determining that the DePuy ASR XL is a defectively designed hip implant. However, the jury rendered defense verdicts on charges of negligence and failure to warn. It returned an award of $2.5 million in compensatory damages for Smith.

DePuy ASR Hip Settlement Agreement

The trial comes after DePuy agreed to settle thousands of ASR cases for more than $3 billion. However, some plaintiffs have elected not to participate in the settlement program and are continuing to pursue their claims individually.

After an initial agreement was announced in 2013, resolving claims for individuals who required revision surgery prior to August 31, 2013, the manufacturer has reportedly agreed to settle additional claims that did not initially qualify. However, the agreement still leaves several thousand cases unresolved, mainly involving individuals who filed a lawsuit prior to experiencing problems that resulted in the need to remove or revise the faulty metal-on-metal implant.

Non-revised plaintiffs who elect to dismiss their cases will be allowed to refile in the future, as long as they bring the new complaint within one year after they undergo ASR revision surgery or within six months of being told that it is too risk for them to undergo revision surgery.

Given the large number of implants still in place throughout the United States, it is expected that DePuy ASR hips will continue to fail over the coming years, which is likely to lead to new claims and future hip settlements being paid by the manufacturer.

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