Woman files lawsuit against faulty hip replacement device manufacturer

Hip replacement surgery was bad enough the first time Kim Horbas, 55, endured it. But when she was told she would have to have a second surgery because the metal of her implant had caused the tissue to deteriorate and she would have to have a different device implanted, she filed a lawsuit against the makers of the hip implant.

Horbas is one of 13 people in Illinois and Indiana who have filed lawsuits in Champaign County against DePuy Orthopaedics, the makers of the defective hip implants. Also named in the lawsuits is DePuy’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson, and a Johnson & Johnson British subsitary, DePuy International Limited.

If left untreated, the tiny metal particles or metal ions from the hip implant can become toxic to surrounding tissue. Horbas says she does not blame her doctor. He seemed as baffled as she was. “He did all he could do. I trust my doctor,” she told the News-Gazette. “It was a faulty device.”

In August, DePuy announced a voluntary recall of its ASR XL Acetabular System, a hip resurfacing and replacement product introduced in 2004 worldwide. The company is also recalling another ASR hip system launched in 2003 and approved for use in some countries, not including the United States. DePuy says about 12 percent of patients who got the ASR XL Acetabular System and 13 percent who got the other system have required a second hip replacement, or revision surgery, within a five-year period.

DePuy Orthopaedics says it intends to cover costs of monitoring and treatment services for patients, including their second surgeries associated with the recall. “We regret that this recall will be concerning for patients, their family members and surgeons,” said David Floyd, DePuy’s president in a prepared statement. “We are committed to assisting patients and health care providers by providing information through multiple channels and paying for the cost of doctor visits, tests and procedures associated with the recall.”

The lawsuits, however, say DePuy’s offer is too little too late, arguing that the defendants “knew that very high revision rates were being reported in patients with the ASR prosthetics and knew that patients were experiencing metal particles or ions entering into surrounding tissues, causing deterioration of the tissue and entering into the blood stream through which they were distributed throughout various parts of the body,” the lawsuit sates. Despite the reports, the defendants continued to manufacture and distribute the implant parts and failed to warn doctors of the risks associated with the parts.