A federal judge overseeing multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving all-metal ASR hip implants made by DePuy Orthopedics has moved the second bellwether trial from June to September.
Judge David Katz, who is presiding over thousands of DePuy lawsuits consolidated in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, filed a trial order on April 22 pushing back the case brought by plaintiff Ann McCracken, a 57-year-old single mother and business owner. Proceedings for the first bellwether case were scheduled to start June 3.
The U.S. judicial system uses bellwether trials to represent the larger body of litigation when the number of cases is too large to try each case individually. The lawsuits are bound by the same theory and similar claims, and the outcome of the bellwether cases helps predict the results of the other pending cases.
Approximately 93,000 patients worldwide, including about 37,000 Americans, received the DePuy implants before they were recalled in August 2010. DePuy and its parent company Johnson & Johnson currently face about 10,000 lawsuits alleging injuries from its ASR implants in the United States. More than 80 percent of the lawsuits have been filed in federal courts and were consolidated for MDL in Ohio. The other 20 percent are being tried in state courts.
According to Harris Martin, plaintiff McCracken’s complaint says that she was implanted with a DePuy ASR hip in 2009 and underwent revision surgery to remove the metal hip in 2011.
McCracken’s lawsuit says DePuy knew of the ASR devices’ failure rate based in part on data in England and Australia, where the devices were used two years earlier than in the United States, but failed to adequately warn patients and physicians of their risks.
DePuy’s designed its ASR XL Acetabular and ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems with all-metal parts to be more durable and longer lasting than conventional implants made with plastic or ceramic components. Friction between the metal parts, however, can cause particles of chromium and cobalt to be released into the body where they may accumulate. In addition to acute bone and tissue damage around the implant site, the metal buildup can also cause more systemic illnesses related to metallosis or metal poisoning.