Judy White felt her body was as fragile as an eggshell when she walked across her garden or knelt down to pick up a flower pot. The creaking that radiated from her leg made her even more concerned that the “worn out” hip she had replaced in order to make her more mobile might have actually caused her more harm that good.
White, who had received the DePuy Orthopaedics ASR XL metal-on-metal hip replacement system, had to undergo revision surgery to have her faulty hip implant replaced. When White learned that the device that had been implanted in her body had been recalled because of an unusually high rate of failures, she decided to join about 400 people worldwide, including 50 others from West Australia, in a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer.
The lawsuit alleges that DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, continued to market the devices despite evidence that the artificial hips were causing patients harm.
White’s case, along with others in the lawsuit, was brought before the Australian Federal Court this week. Plaintiffs are seeking compensation for harm as well as punitive damages.
During the hearing, Dr. Rohan Hammett, the national manager of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia’s version of the FDA, said before the implant was recalled, a panel of orthopedics experts recommended surgeons undergo more training in order to use the devices because of their technical complexity. But the matter, he said, was further complicated when a second, but technically different, DePuy hip implant was reported to have problems. The other implant was never recalled.