Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics designed a flawed metal-on-metal hip replacement system and owes a retired prison guard from Montana $8.3 million in compensatory damages, a California jury decided in the first of more than 10,000 lawsuits regarding the devices to stand trial.
Loren “Bill” Kransky sued DePuy arguing that the company failed to adequately test the device before marketing it in the United States. His lawsuit also claims the company covered up surgeon complaints of failures and considered redesigning the ASR model before ultimately deciding to stop making it in 2008.
Johnson & Johnson recalled 93,000 DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement systems in 2010, when it said 12 percent of the devices were failing within five years. Prosecutors, however, found that last year in Australia, the ASR devices had a seven-year failure rate of 44 percent. Analysts say the lawsuits could cost Johnson & Johnson billions of dollars to resolve.
Kransky and other plaintiffs claim that the flawed design of the ASR led to premature loosening, fracturing or dislocation of the device for which they needed revision surgery to remove and replace the implant. Several plaintiffs also suffered from a type of metal poisoning known as metallosis when the metal parts of the device began to corrode inside the body.
The lawsuit is expected to set the tone for other plaintiffs currently in settlement discussions.