First Bellwether Trial for DePuy Pinnacle Metal-on-Metal Hips BeginsSep 4, 2014
For Johnson & Johnson, this week is the start of the first trial over allegations that the defective design of the metal-on-metal DePuy Pinnacle hip caused premature failure of the devices and allowed metal debris to leech into patients’ bloodstreams.
The cobalt-and-chromium material caused an infection that required the plaintiff to have both her Pinnacle hips removed, Bloomberg News reports. Jury selection began on Tuesday in this case, the first of more than 6,000 Pinnacle cases. The cases were consolidated before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in Dallas for pretrial information exchanges and Kinkeade is presiding over the trial. This trial is considered a bellwether trial in the litigation. The outcome of bellwether trials may help determine the course of the remaining cases and could lead to a settlement.
Court documents in the case say DePuy officials misled patients and their doctors about the safety of the Pinnacle hips. DePuy sponsored a “satellite telecast to physicians all over the country to tout the advantages of the Pinnacle Device, including representations of the benefits of metal-on-metal hip replacements,” according to Bloomberg News. J & J claimed the metal-on-metal implants, first sold in the U.S. in 2005, would last 20 years and offer recipients a greater range of motion.
The plaintiff, a graphic artist, is seeking damages for physical injuries connected with the hip-removal surgeries, loss of earnings and other compensatory damages. She also seeks damages for emotional distress caused by the company’s aggressive marketing of the hips, according to Bloomberg News.
J & J recalled 93,000 ASR hip devices worldwide in August 2010, saying 12 percent failed within five years. Internal J&J documents showed 37 percent of ASR hips failed after 4.6 years. In 2012, the failure rate in Australia was 44 percent within seven years. A 2012 British study raised questions about whether recipients of metal-on-metal hips faced an increased risk of bladder and kidney cancer and genetic damage. The ASR settlement announced in 2013 was designed to resolve some 8,000 U.S. suits against DePuy.