January 21, 2013 — According to Bloomberg, Johnson & Johnson has offered to pay $200,000 per case to settle more than 10,000 lawsuits filed by people who were injured by the DePuy ASR hip implant. So far, lawyers for plaintiffs have rejected the offer as too low. The first trials in the litigation are scheduled to begin next week, and jury decisions in these cases may help lawyers weigh the value of a potential settlement.
The DePuy ASR is a metal-on-metal hip implant, which consists of an all-metal “ball-and-socket” design. According to the FDA, the problem with this design is that it conveys unique risks in addition to the risks associated with all hip implants. Namely, the metal parts can grind together, shed toxic particles of metal into a patient’s body, and cause soft tissue damage and other complications. In many cases, patients require additional surgery to replace their defective hip implant.
DePuy recalled approximately 93,000 ASR hip implants in 2010, including 37,000 in the United States. In 2011, company documents linked the ASR to a 37% five-year failure rate. Many people who were implanted with the product have suffered pain, dislocated joints, infections, bone fractures, metallosis, tissue loss, and other debilitating complications.
As with most large medical device litigation, most of the 10,000 DePuy ASR lawsuits are centralized in federal court in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio where Judge David A. Katz presides. About 2,000 lawsuits have also been centralized in California state court in San Francisco.
Lawyers have selected a group of three “bellwether trials” that will proceed in the next few months unless Johnson & Johnson proposes a settlement that is acceptable to most of the plaintiffs in the litigation. Because it is highly unlikely that J&J will allow each lawsuit to go to trial individually, the decisions in these early trials will likely help expedite settlement negotiations.
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