More than 19,000 people have filed lawsuits over DePuy’s Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) and Pinnacle hip implants. Verdicts and settlements in the lawsuits have already totaled more than $6 billion.
People began filing lawsuits when DePuy hips started failing far sooner than expected. Many of the problems stemmed from the materials used in the company’s ASR and Pinnacle hips.
Metal-on-metal versions of the DePuy Pinnacle and DePuy ASR hip implants were blamed for serious complications. A once-promising technology, metal-on-metal hip replacements were marketed as more durable than previous hip implant models.
Metal-on-metal hips used a metal ball that fits inside a metal socket to form a joint. Traditional designs used a plastic or ceramic socket. The metal wearing against metal released microscopic amounts of metal ions. These sometimes caused a condition called metallosis — a form of metal poisoning that caused bone and other tissue death. It could also lead to loosening the device as bone and tissue wore away.
More than 11,000 lawsuits are still pending over DePuy hip replacements. And more lawsuits are likely to be filed ahead of the latest round of settlements.
DePuy and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, settled more than 9,000 lawsuits over ASR model for $4.4 billion between 2013 and 2015. Juries in three trials since 2015 have awarded plaintiffs more than $1.7 billion in verdicts over DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implants.
As of January 2018, there were 1,640 lawsuits over DePuy ASR hips in an Ohio federal court. Another 9,313 lawsuits over DePuy’s Pinnacle hips were pending in a Texas MDL court.
DePuy had lost three of four bellwether trials over its Pinnacle hip by November 2017. Bellwether trials are “test cases” to see how lawsuits may play out in front of actual juries. These can determine if more lawsuits should go forward or whether to settle the remaining cases.
The mounting losses of jury verdicts are expected to put pressure on the company to seek settlements in the thousands of lawsuits it still faces.
Lawsuits over the DePuy Pinnacle and ASR hips claim the devices caused severe complications that required additional surgery to remove and replace their defective hips.
The people who filed DePuy hip lawsuits claim the company, along with its parent corporation, Johnson & Johnson, knew about problems with the devices, but failed to warn people of the risks. Internal, company documents presented at the first ASR hip trial appeared to back up those claims.
Revelations of Internal Johnson & Johnson Documents at First Depuy ASR Trial
Settlements and verdicts involving DePuy hip implants total roughly $6.2 billion, though courts have reduced some of the jury awards.
Federal panel combines DePuy ASR hip lawsuits into an MDL in Ohio federal court
Federal panel combines DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits into an MDL in Texas federal court
Jury awards Loren Kransky $8.3 million in first ASR lawsuit to go to trial
DePuy wins second ASR trial
DePuy settles three pending lawsuits for $200,000 each
DePuy and Johnson & Johnson agree to settle nearly 8,000 ASR lawsuits for $4 billion
Plaintiffs lose the first Pinnacle hip bellwether trial
DePuy settles another 1,800 ASR lawsuits for an additional $420 million
Jury awards five plaintiffs in Pinnacle lawsuit $502 million (later reduced to $151 million under Texas law)
Jury awards six plaintiffs $1 billion in DePuy Pinnacle lawsuit (later reduced to $543 million under Texas law)
Jury awards $247 million to five plaintiffs in Pinnacle lawsuit
Johnson & Johnson appeals the March 2016 verdict asking that the $151 million award be thrown out
There were 1,640 ASR hip lawsuits and 9,313 Pinnacle hip lawsuits still pending in two separate MDLs
There are currently no class action lawsuits over DePuy hip replacements. Class actions involve several people with the same injury filing a single lawsuit. This is called a “class.” Other people with the same injury may become part of that class and share in any verdict or settlement. Class actions tend to involve cases where the amount of money a person would receive would be so small, it wouldn’t be worth their time to hire an attorney or take their case to court.
Instead, people filed individual lawsuits in the DePuy hip cases. A federal panel later combined those lawsuits into multidistrict litigations (MDLs). Like class-action lawsuits, MDLs allow several people — in these cases, several thousand — to combine their resources. MDLs also allow people to receive money for their specific injuries, rather than splitting any verdict or settlement amongst every person in the class.
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Unlike a class action, current lawsuits over DePuy hip replacements have to be filed by each person hurt by a faulty hip implant. Lawsuits can still be filed over the Pinnacle hip model.
To file a DePuy Pinnacle lawsuit, people have to have suffered an injury. These can include high metal ion counts in the blood, metallosis, loosening, fracture or having to undergo revision surgery.
Hip replacement lawsuits involve complicated issues of medicine, engineering and chemistry. They often require attorneys who specialize in medical device cases. Generally, these product liability lawyers offer free consultations that can help a patient understand their legal options. Attorneys usually don’t charge fees unless they win the case.
Most of the money awarded in the DePuy Pinnacle verdicts have come in the form of punitive damages. Actual damages are the amount a jury decides the plaintiff has lost. This may include medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
But a jury can also grant punitive damages to punish defendants if it determines there was especially bad behavior, in this case by Johnson & Johnson or DePuy.
|Date of Pinnacle Verdict||Actual Damages||Punitive Damages||Total Jury Award|
|March 2016||$142 million||$360 million||$502 million (later reduced to $151 million under Texas law)|
|December 2016||$30 million||$1.01 billion||$1.04 billion (later reduced to $543 million under Texas law)|
|November 2017||$78 million||$168 million||$247 million|
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
Terry Turner is an Emmy-winning, former television journalist. He is an associate member of the American Bar Association, the ABA’s Health Law group and a member of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. He holds six certificates in Health Literacy for Healthcare Professionals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a Washington-based investigative reporter, he routinely reported on health and medical policy issues before Congress, the FDA and other federal agencies. Terry received his B.A. in Media Arts from Lyon College.
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