Trial Underway for DePuy Pinnacle Metal Hip Lawsuit

Trial began this week in Texas in the first out of several thousand federal hip replacement lawsuits brought by individuals who allege that they suffered metal blood poisoning from DePuy Pinnacle hip replacements.

There are currently more than 6,500 DePuy Pinnacle metal hip lawsuits pending nationwide, which all involve similar allegations that the metal-on-metal configuration of the popular implant is prone to release microscopic metal debris as the parts rub against each other, leading to early failure of the hip replacement and metal blood poisoning.

The first DePuy Pinnacle trial began on Monday, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, where the federal litigation is centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

A complaint filed by Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli was selected as one in a series of “bellwether” cases scheduled in the DePuy Pinnacle MDL to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout a large number of other claims.

Herlihy-Paoli is a 58 year old woman from Montana, who received a DePuy Pinnacle metal hip in 2009, but had to have it removed in 2011, following complaints of pain and after blood testing revealed that the implant had raised the levels of cobalt and chromium in her blood. Her cobalt blood serum levels were 85 times that of a normal person’s, according to court filings.

During the first day of trial, attorneys for the plaintiff told the jury that Johnson & Johnson and the DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary aggressively overmarketed the hip replacements, lied about complication rates associated with metal-on-metal hips and failed to warn people that they were being used as “guinea pigs.”

It appears that DePuy will argue at trial that Herlihy-Paoli’s problems were the result of the Pinnacle’s poor positioning when it was implanted.

Following the conclusion of this case, additional DePuy Pinnacle bellwether trials are scheduled in the coming months, with other lawsuits set to begin on November 3, 2014 and January 12, 2015.

While the outcomes of these cases are not binding on any other lawsuits in the litigation, the bellwether is designed to facilitate possible hip replacement settlements that may avoid the need for thousands of other cases to be set for individual trials nationwide.

DePuy Hip Settlements

The bellwether trials begin shortly after Johnson & Johnson and DePuy agreed to pay at least $2.4 billion to settle similar claims involving the ASR hip implant, which was approved as a “substantial equivalent” to the Pinnacle metal-on-metal design.

A DePuy ASR recall was issued in August 2010, after the manufacturer acknowledged that the implant carried a higher-than-expected rate of failures. More than 12,000 lawsuits over DePuy ASR hips were filed nationwide before the settlement, and the agreement was only reached after a number of cases went to trial, with conflicting results.

Despite the ASR settlement, DePuy has maintained that it intends to defend the safety of the Pinnacle implant at trial. However, early evidence in the Herlihy-Paoli trial suggests that the manufacturer knew about the risk of metal poisoning with Pinnacle hips as early as 2001, ignoring recommendations that the implants be tested to see whether they release metal debris into the bloodstream.

Other manufacturers of metal-on-metal implants face similar allegations that they failed to adequately research the design or warn about the risk of problems. Additional MDLs have been established in the federal court system for Biomet M2A Magnum metal hip lawsuits and Wright Medical Conserve Cup metal hip lawsuits.

In January 2013, the FDA released new guidance for metal-on-metal hip replacements, indicating that doctors should only use the design if other artificial hip implants are not appropriate. The agency also determined that future metal-on-metal hip designs will be required to undergo extensive human clinical trials before they will be approved.

3 Comments

  • CrystalApril 21, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    I did not have the metal on metal but a ceramic head with poly cup and it IS pinnacle. Within one year I experience acute liner dissassociation just from bending to pick up a bowl. My issue with Depuy saying the surgeons are not placing them correctly is that I DID have a Depuy rep IN MY OPERATING ROOM with my surgeon the whole duration of my surgery. Should they not have advised the surgeon that [Show More]I did not have the metal on metal but a ceramic head with poly cup and it IS pinnacle. Within one year I experience acute liner dissassociation just from bending to pick up a bowl. My issue with Depuy saying the surgeons are not placing them correctly is that I DID have a Depuy rep IN MY OPERATING ROOM with my surgeon the whole duration of my surgery. Should they not have advised the surgeon that they are now trying to blame?

  • RonaldSeptember 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    I had the same hip since 2009 and I complained from day 1 that something was WRONG with my hip the doctors did not believe me until 4 WHOLE years LATER ALL THAT PAIN for years some body needs to be held accountable. lol

  • LindaSeptember 5, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Hip replacements in 2005 and 2006. Toxic poisoning . Pancreatic insufficiency . Hip revisions 2012 and 2013, This is unbelievable. Been so sick. Lost 45 lbs. I have tried to explain it to physicians and they are unaware of the situation. Was in hospital for 13 days. Finally diagnosed as pancreatic insufficiency. Asked them to kill me pain was so terrible , Instead, I was treated with pain meds a[Show More]Hip replacements in 2005 and 2006. Toxic poisoning . Pancreatic insufficiency . Hip revisions 2012 and 2013, This is unbelievable. Been so sick. Lost 45 lbs. I have tried to explain it to physicians and they are unaware of the situation. Was in hospital for 13 days. Finally diagnosed as pancreatic insufficiency. Asked them to kill me pain was so terrible , Instead, I was treated with pain meds and pancreatic meds. Was out of work for 6 months at a time. Independent contractor. NO work check and no unemployment. Hungry and tired. I want J&J to work this out.

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