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More DePuy Pinnacle Hip Replacement Lawsuits Transferred to Texas Litigation

Aug 7, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

Several lawsuits involving the metal-on-metal version of the DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant System have been transferred to a Texas multidistrict litigation where more than 1,500 such lawsuits are pending.  All of the complaints allege the all-metal DePuy Pinnacle hip replacements shed tiny particles of metal into patients tissue and blood stream, leading to serious complications including premature implant failure, adverse tissue reactions, development of pseudotumors and metallosis.

The problems allegedly associated with the metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip replacement devices are similar to those that prompted the August 2010 recall of DePuy Orthopaedic's ASR hip replacement devices.  DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, recalled the all-metal ASR hip implant after they were found to be failing in about 12 percent of patients within just five years of implantation.   Since that recall, the entire class of metal-on-metal hip implants has come under scrutiny, as study after study has linked the shedding of metal ions from such devices to metallosis, a reaction that results in tissue and bone loss, the formation of pseudotumors, and possibly long-term heart, kidney, nerve and thyroid problems.

Recently, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Devices Panel recommended that metal-on-metal hip implant patients undergo regular monitoring to ensure their devices are not failing.   This came after the agency reported it had it had received 16,800 negative event reports involving metal hips between 2000 and 2011. Of those, more than 14,000 involved revision surgeries, in which a defective implant was removed.

Lawsuits involving the metal-on-metal version of the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement device have been consolidated in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas, before James Kinkeade.  According to a report from Mass Device, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) recently ordered the transfer of four more Pinnacle lawsuits to the Texas litigation. The four claims came from the central and northern districts of California as well as from Maryland.  In ordering the transfer over the objection of the Plaintiffs, the Panel ruled that the four cases were similar enough and involved "common questions of fact with actions previously transferred" to the Texas.  The "transfer will service the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of litigation," the Panel said.

Legal experts have speculated that the size of the litigation involving the all-metal DePuy Pinnacle hip implant will easily surpass that of litigation over the recalled ASR hip replacement devices.  Last month, Reuters reported that only around 37,000 patients in the U.S. received an ASR hip implant device.   But some 150,000 have been fitted with a metal-on-metal Pinnacle implant.   One U.K. orthopedist interviewed by Reuters who is tracking about 1,000 people with the DePuy Pinnacle devices aid  the device has a failure rate of 8 percent at five years, and 16 percent after 6-1/2 years.

The next status conference in the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement litigation is scheduled for August 9 in Dallas.  According to the Master Case List, as of June 30, 2012, there were 1,571 cases included in the Pinnacle hip replacement litigation.

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