The first of several hundred ASR-hip lawsuits filed in New Jersey state courts against DePuy Orthopedics and parent company Johnson & Johnson has been scheduled to start October 21.
The bellwether case, selected as a representative case to help the court and litigants understand how the rest of the litigation will proceed, will be heard before Judge Brian Marinotti in the Superior Court of New Jersey for Bergen County. More than 600 lawsuits against DePuy alleging injuries from its ASR metal hip implants are pending in New Jersey, where they have been consolidated for Multi-County Litigation (MCL). Johnson & Johnson is headquartered in New Jersey.
Nearly 11,000 lawsuits against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson have been filed in state and federal courts throughout the United States. The majority of the cases, filed in federal courts, have been consolidated for multi-district litigation (MDL) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio under Judge David Katz.
DePuy recalled its ASR XL Acetabular and ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems in August 2010, after medical data from a joint registry in the U.K. showed that 12-13 percent if the all-metal hip devices failed within five years of implantation. Subsequent data and studies found that the failure rate may be even higher.
DePuy itself estimated that about a third of the ASR hip implants would fail within four and a half years. That determination was made after the some 93,000 patients around the world had been implanted with the faulty devices, including about 37,000 Americans.
Most hip implants can last 20 years or more, with a failure rate between 12 and 14 percent within that time. Unlike conventional hip implants, which incorporate plastic or ceramic parts, DePuy’s ASR devices were made from all metal parts. The design turned out to be defective. Not only were the devices failing prematurely, but the metal was also causing muscle, tissue, and bone decay in some patients while causing pain and inflammation, and leeching heavy metals into the bloodstream.
For some ASR hip patients, the pain and injuries were debilitating. Such was the case for plaintiff Loren “Bill” Kransky, whose lawsuit was heard as a bellwether case in California Superior Court in Los Angeles earlier this year. The jury that heard the case awarded Mr. Kransky $8.3 million in damages, and the judge upheld the decision despite Johnson & Johnson’s protests.
Most of the plaintiffs seeking damages from DePuy allege the company defectively designed the devices, rushed them to market without adequate testing and failed to warn physicians and patients about the risks.