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Judge Overseeing DePuy ASR Hip Implant Lawsuits Says Executives will be Deposed

Sep 11, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

Eight current and former executives from DePuy Orthopaedics have been called to testify as part of the Multidistrict Litigation the company faces over its defective and recalled ASR and ASR XL metal-on-metal hip implants, according to a report at MassDevice.com.

There are currently more than 6,000 personal injury lawsuits combined as part of the DePuy ASR MDL. That lawsuit is in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and preliminary proceedings are underway as victims of these defective medical devices learn what they’ll be entitled to receive for enduring the injuries caused by their hip implant.

The ASR line of metal-on-metal hip implants was recalled in August 2010 when DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, admitted that its device was failing early - after just five years of use - at a rate of at least 12 percent. Some studies suggest the ASR hip implant could be failing early at rates close to 30 percent.

More than 96,000 were fitted with the DePuy ASR hip implant under the belief that it was a new and better device than those that were previously on the market. The metal-on-metal design was touted as an advancement in the hip implant industry and was supposed to last longer than traditional implants that used ceramic or plastic components. The new design was supposed to make the ASR more suitable for younger recipients than those who traditionally were good candidates for hip implants. The longer lifespan on the devices was supposed to mean that it would require less revision and replacements during the life of a recipient.

Instead, the opposite became a reality for thousands of recipients of the ASR hip implants, and for those who received other versions of a metal-on-metal hip implant. Since the recall, in addition to the thousands of people who’ve filed personal injury lawsuits, federal regulators have called for increased post-market testing from 33 manufacturers of these devices, all aimed at determining whether any of the claims made of these newer implants were true.

Victims of defective and malfunctioning ASR and ASR XL hip implants have suffered serious pain and inflammation at the site of the implant, sometimes felt just weeks after the replacement surgery. In some cases, the device has failed entirely and required a revision or replacement surgery to correct the problems. Each surgery puts a recipient at greater risk of complications, including infections caused by the surgery and every time, the chances a person will regain full mobility from their joint decreases.

The hallmark defect of metal-on-metal hip implants involves them putting recipients at a serious risk of suffering metallosis, metal poisoning caused by a toxic accumulation of cobalt and chromium. Small fragments of these metals are shed into the body through normal wear-and-tear of the device. If this condition goes unnoticed as it has for many, it could lead to tissue and muscle damage near the site of the implant. Further progression could result in total organ failure and small tumors could begin to grow throughout the body if the metals are not cleared.

Former DePuy presidnt David Floyd and its current president Andrew Ekdahl are among the eight executives who’ve been called to testify in the federal MDL. They’ll likely be asked to answer questions on whether or not they were aware of the dangers posed by their defective ASR hip implants and whether they OK’d further marketing of them as safe despite that knowledge.

In addition to the 6,000 lawsuits filed in the federal lawsuit, there are more than 2,000 more lawsuits facing the company filed in state courts across the country. The first three lawsuits that were about to go to trial in state court were recently settled prior to those proceedings, with DePuy agreeing to pay a total of $600,000 to those Plaintiffs. The next potential lawsuit to go to trial is scheduled for a Maryland state court early next year.


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