November 20, 2013 — Johnson & Johnson (J&J) is in a deal to pay $2.5 billion in compensation to an estimated 8,000 people who were injured by the DePuy ASR hip implant. The proposed settlement must receive the support of 94% of eligible claimants in the litigation.
The company has also agreed to pay medical costs related to revision surgery (removing and replacing the defective hip implant), which could increase the settlement to $3 billion. The agreement only covers 8,000 out of about 12,000 lawsuits. If settlements are reached in the remaining 4,000 cases, the total cost could be even higher.
Under terms of the agreement, plaintiffs could be awarded about $250,000 for pain and suffering, before legal fees. Some plaintiffs could receive significantly less, especially if they were implanted with the ASR for several years before it caused problems. Plaintiffs who smoke cigarettes, are overweight, or elderly would also see reduced payments.
Plaintiffs who do not agree to the settlement may choose to seek additional compensation through individual lawsuits. Several cases that went to trial in state court have been awarded multi-million dollar jury verdicts. In March, a jury in Los Angeles awarded a man $8.3 million in damages.
The DePuy Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) was on the market for eight years and implanted in more than 90,000 people, including 35,000 in the United States. J&J stopped manufacturing the implant in 2009 and recalled it in 2010.
Documents unsealed during trials show that J&J was aware of problems with the ASR implant at least as early as 2008. However, they continued to market its metal-on-metal design as superior to other implants. Normally, a hip implant is supposed to last 10-20 years. Some studies estimated that 40-50% of people with the ASR experienced problems within five years.
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