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DePuy ASR Hip Implant Class Action Lawsuit Seeks Reimbursement for Insurers

Apr 27, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

A new DePuy ASR hip implant class action lawsuit has been filed by the North Jersey Municipal Employee Benefits Fund.  The DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuit seeks reimbursement for insurers and other third parties that paid for the recalled hip replacement devices.

The North Jersey Municipal Employee Benefits Fund filed the DePuy ASR hip implant class action lawsuit in New Jersey District Court, Trenton Office, on April 20.  It names Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics as a defendant.  In addition to seeking reimbursement for the cost of ASR hip replacements, the lawsuit also seeks damages resulting from the companies'  "wrongful profits, revenues and benefits to the extent, and in the amount, deemed appropriate by the Court."  The complaint alleges that DePuy allowed the ASR hip implant to remain on the market, even though it was aware of the device’s defects.

In August 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics issued a recall for the ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales showed that 1 out of 8 patients (12%-13%) who had received the devices had to undergo revision surgery within five years of receiving the surgery. A hip implant should last for roughly 15 years, but many DePuy ASR hip implant recipients have had to undergo new surgeries just a few years after implantation. 

In 2009, DePuy had already announced it would be phasing out the ASR hip implant, ostensibly because of low sales. But by 2008, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration had received more than 300 reports of problems with the hip implant, most involving premature failure that required revision surgery.  The DePuy ASR hip implant recall was issued after the company sent a letter to doctors in March 2010, warning that the device had been associated with a higher-than-expected failure rate, especially in patients of smaller stature, or those with weak bones. 

The DePuy ASR hip implant is a metal-on-metal hip device made of chromium and cobalt, consisting of a cup that’s implanted into the hip with a ball joint that connects to the leg.  It is believed that complications associated with the defective device are the result of wearing of the metal components, which can lead to microscopic shards of cobalt and chromium making their way into the bloodstream.  Over time, this can cause a condition called metallosis, which can result in tissue breakdown, bone loss, and even the formation of non-cancerous tumors.

As a result of the DePuy ASR hip replacement recall, Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopaedics have been named in scores of product liability lawsuits.  Late last year, all federal DePuy hip implants lawsuits were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation before the Honorable David A. Katz in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.

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