Johnson & Johnson Settles DePuy Bellwether Case in California Ahead of TrialOct 7, 2013
Johnson & Johnson settled on Oct. 1 the first bellwether trial against DePuy ASR, a subsidiary that manufactured metal-on-metal hip implants, a mere two weeks before the case was to reach a jury trial in California, according to court documents. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.
The first bellwether case was part of a consolidation of lawsuits against DePuy filed in San Francisco Superior Court (DePuy ASR Hip System Cases; CJC-10-004649). Robert Eugene Ottman was the plaintiff in the first bellwether trial, court documents reveal.
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against metal-on-metal hip implant manufacturers; many have been consolidated into multidistrict litigations to simplify pretrial proceedings. The outcome of bellwether trials, selected as representative cases, can indicate trends in the litigation and sometimes help the parties reach a settlement.
“Settlements, especially of bellwether trials, are generally encouraging,” said Daniel C. Burke, senior litigation counsel at national law firm Parker Waichman LLP.
According to a January safety alert from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), metal-on-metal hip implants, as a class of medical device, have failed. Most all-metal implants have been recalled worldwide and are the subject of major litigation. Recipients have experienced adverse effects, including: hip dislocation, bone fracture, infection, nerve damage, device loosening or breakage, bone loss, tissue damage, and excess metals in the bloodstream. Many patients have needed complex and risky revision surgery to remove and replace a failed implant.
In January, the FDA issued new guidelines for patients with all-metal hips. The agency advised physical examinations, diagnostic imaging, and metal ion testing in symptomatic patients. The FDA is also considering changes to the device approval process so that all implantable devices would have to undergo clinical testing before reaching the market.