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Jury selection begins in first DePuy ASR hip implant trial

Jan 8, 2013

Johnson & Johnson is currently facing the first of what could be thousands of charges that a metal-on-metal hip implant it manufactured was defective - and that the company knew of this - and put recipients at greater risk of serious injuries over other hip implants.

According to a Bloomberg report, the first person to have his or her complaint heard that Johnson & Johnson's metal-on-metal hip implant - the DePuy Orthopaedics ASR model -is defective is former professional dancer Moira Jackson. The woman received two ASR hip implants in separate surgeries and like thousands of other recipients of this specific device, soon suffered myriad complications that have been linked to this and other metal-on-metal hip implants.

Jury selection was set to begin today in Jackson's trial. She is the first victim of metal-on-metal hip implant injuries to have their case reach a jury trial. Less than a handful of other victims have previously settled out-of-court for the injuries they suffered. The decision reached in Jackson's trial is likely to have major bearing on the remainder of the more than 10,000 lawsuits which have been filed against the division of Johnson & Johnson and other makers of metal-on-metal hip implants. 

The former dancer is seeking $15 million in damages through her lawsuit against DePuy Orthopaedics and Johnson & Johnson. She says the companies knowingly hid dangers of these devices from the public and federal health regulators as they sought to get them approved for use in the U.S. Metal-on-metal hip implants like the DePuy ASR and others were touted as a revolution in the industry and designed to fit younger recipients than the average hip implant patient. Their metal-on-metal technology was supposed to require less revision and replacement surgeries over the lifespan of the recipient.

After tens of thousands of devices were implanted - rushed through the Food and Drug Administration's 510(k) fast-track approval system for medical devices - it soon became evident that more than a few isolated problems with metal-on-metal hips. Severe pain, swelling, inflammation, and other maladies plagued recipients. Further, many implants broke and required revision surgeries in the first few years (or even months) of wearing them.

Jackson says in her lawsuit that her DePuy ASR hip implant caused her to suffer "severe physical distress and injury" and that she was no longer able to enjoy a "normal life" as a result of the permanent injuries caused by the defective hip implants and the revision and replacement surgeries required as part of her treatment.

DePuy eventually recalled the ASR and ASR XL models of metal-on-metal hip implants in August 2010 amid numerous reports that its devices were failing early at an unprecedented rate of around 12-to-13 percent. Some studies suggested that rate was even higher. Up to 37,000 people in the U.S. are like Jackson in that they received one or more of these implants believing them to be better than older models.

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