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DePuy ASR Hip Replacement Litigation Will Be Massive

Oct 12, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

The DePuy ASR Hip Replacement litigation is growing. According to a report in the Wisconsin Law Journal, at least a dozen DePuy ASR Hip Replacement class actions and individual suits have been filed in federal and state courts around the country.

Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics unit announced the recall of the DePuy ASR Hip Implant system in August, after data from the National Joint Registry of England and Wales showed that 1 out of every 8 patients (12%-13%) who had received the recalled devices had to undergo revision surgery within five years of receiving it. The recall involved the ASR XL Acetabular System, a hip socket used in traditional hip replacement, and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System, a partial hip replacement that involves placing a metal cap on the ball of the femur. Only the ASR XL Acetabular System was approved for use in the US. About 93,000 people around the world received one of the recalled implants.

DePuy ASR Hip Replacement lawsuits allege that the metal-on-metal hip replacement device was defectively designed, and that DePuy knew its hip replacements were failing at a higher than expected rate, but didn’t alert consumers or orthopedic surgeons.

While the recall was only issued in August, DePuy had been receiving reports for several years regarding early failures of the implant. According to a report on the Independent, a UK media outlet, the Australian Joint Registry – the second largest database in the world after the England and Wales National Joint Registry – issued seven reports to DePuy starting in 2007 that identified problems with the hip implant system. The ASR system was finally withdrawn from the Australian market in December 2009.

DePuy was already phasing out the ASR hip implant system when it finally acknowledged in March 2010 that the device was prone to early failure. By that time, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) had received hundreds of reports describing premature failure of the DePuy ASR hip implant system. Still, it would be months before the DePuy ASR hip implant system was finally recalled.

According to the Wisconsin Law Journal, the litigation over the DePuy ASR Hip Replacement is expected to be massive, with one plaintiffs’ attorney predicting as many as 4,000 lawsuits. In September, plaintiffs’ attorneys motioned the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all such federal cases in a multidistrict litigation before Judge Susan D. Wigenton. DePuy, however, wants the claims heard either in federal court in the Northern District of Indiana at South Bend or the Northern District of Ohio at Toledo; both of which are near its Warsaw, Indiana, headquarters.

A multidistrict litigation would allow all DePuy ASR hip implant lawsuits to be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses and the court. 

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