Plaintiffs from four states filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, its subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics, and related companies in a Madison County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court June 29, seeking damages from injuries allegedly caused by metal hip implants made by DePuy.
According to the complaint, 21 plaintiffs from California, Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri underwent hip replacement surgery, receiving DePuy metal-on-metal hip implants. However, the lawsuit alleges, instead of improving their lives, the devices malfunctioned and caused the plaintiffs to experience a spectrum of painful and crippling injuries, including bone and tissue loss, neurological injuries, cancer, liver and kidney damage, and other complications associated with metal poisoning.
Metal-on-metal hips such as Depuy’s ASR XL Acetabular and Hip Resurfacing Systems, which were recalled over safety concerns in August 2010, were designed to be more durable and longer lasting than conventional hip implants made with ceramic and plastic components. But what looked good in theory has turned out to be a nightmare for many patients.
As the all-metal components of these hip devices abrade against one another, they may release particles of cobalt and chromium into the body. The body reacts by sending scavenger cells to fight the alien particles, but as the metal cells are devoured by the scavenger cells, they become electrically charged ions that may react with tissue and set off a chain reaction of illnesses and complications known as metallosis.
Once in the bloodstream, the metal particles can spread throughout the body, causing damage to the liver, kidneys, spleen, and even the brain. Evidence also suggests that elevated levels of metal in the blood can cause more systemic damage on the DNA level, resulting in tumors and cancer.
According to the new Wisconsin lawsuit, “Defendants were aware of the probable consequences” of their hip implants and they “knew or should have known that the hip replacement products would cause serious injury.” The complaint also alleges that the defendants “failed to disclose the known or knowable risks associated with” their hip devices.
The plaintiffs allege negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against all the defendants. They also allege breach of implied warranty against Depuy Orthopedics, claiming the company sold hip implants that were not suitable for sale.