New Zealanders cannot sue defective artificial hip maker

More than 507 New Zealand patients received the defective DePuy Orthopaedics ASR hip replacement system, and 28 have had to have them removed since last year. Yet New Zealanders cannot sue the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that manufactured the defective devices because large corporations there are protected by ACC, or Accident Compensation Corporation.

Last year, DePuy announced it was recalling its ASR hip replacement system after studies showed the devices were failing at a higher than expected rate. Patients who received the faulty implants had experienced problems such as loosening, dislocating and fracturing, and many had to have revision surgery to have the implants replaced. Some patients also developed a type of blood poisoning from the metal-on-metal devices. An estimated 93,000 people worldwide are affected by the recall.

In the United States, attorneys, including those at Beasley Allen Law Firm, are investigating cases of patients who have been injured by the devices. Johnson & Johnson has offered to pay for revision surgeries, but many are opting to sue the company for compensation to cover pain and suffering as well as other damages.

New Zealanders do not have this option. ACC is New Zealand’s way of providing compensation for accidents. The idea is to help anyone who has had an accident and suffered personal injury, no matter how minor or serious, or who is to blame. The compensation isn’t necessarily a monetary payment. In some cases, it may be free or reduced-cost treatments. In exchange for this guaranteed compensation, patients who experience a personal injury cannot sue.

“They have made it clear to me in correspondence that there is the ACC bar, that I can’t sue for pain and suffering,” James Elliott told the New Zealand Herald. Instead, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay New Zealanders whose devices failed out-of-pocket expenses, which are likely far less than what patients who sue will get. “No one is advocating the removal of ACC,” he said. “But a corporation this size should step up and do the right thing instead of putting it on taxpayers.”

Citizens Advice Bureau
NZ Herald