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Plaintiff's Husband Tells Jurors of Her Severe Post-Revision Hip Surgery Pain

Apr 1, 2013

The husband of Carol Strum, the plaintiff in the second lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy Inc. over its recalled ASR XL metal hip, testified on Thursday that his wife had been suffering from unrelenting pain following revision surgery to address her failed implantation.

Carol Strum's lawsuit, which has been playing out in Illinois state court, is one of about 10,000 more waiting in the wings to pull DePuy into court to respond to nationwide charges that its ASR metal hip implant is critically flawed.

Earlier this month, the first trial centering on Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy unit, took place in Los Angeles and wrapped up with a jury verdict that cost DePuy a cool $8.3 million.

According to a Law360 report, on direct examination during the Illinois trial, Carol’s husband, Mike Strum, told jurors how, initially, his spouse suffered from escalating pain in her left hip due to arthritis; he noted that his wife underwent surgery in January 2008 to have the DePuy metal hip implant installed. She recovered from the surgery very quickly, but in 2009, she again started experiencing pain, he said, which was accompanied by the clicking sound of the ASR metal hip. By the end of the year, he noted, that clicking sound was audible "across the room," Law360 reported.

He added that during a summer 2010 vacation with their two children, she was forced to struggle to walk long distances, noted Law360.

She had another hip implantation via revision surgery in January 2011, her husband testified, noting that afterward, she was in much greater pain and it took her twice as long to get back to her nurse job. She also is now unable to volunteer for their son's athletic program or help their daughter practice at sports, he testified.

Law360 quoted him telling the jury: "The future's uncertain. We don't know if she's going to need another revision. The pain... is constant. We don't anticipate that going away."

In the current trial, DePuy has argued that, based on the medical evidence, Strum's personal health issues were the cause of the revision surgery, not the company's product.

DePuy voluntarily recalled its ASR hip system in August 2010.

Earlier in the week, DePuy’s former marketing director offered video testimony in which he noted that the design of the hip implant is likely the cause of any related problems.

Paul Berman, who had been director of U.S. hip marketing for DePuy, said a colleague's email, which was sent about one year prior to the recall of 93,000 ASR devices in 2010, noted that the device’s issues were likely caused by its design, reported Law360.

All-metal hip implants were created for greater durability and longevity, but in recent years, the metal devices have been ardently criticized for failing at unpredictably high rates and leaving patients with significant, often life-long injuries. Some experts say that European and American regulators worked to ensure patients were not aware of the devices’ risks; many have criticized device makers for placing profits before patient safety.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new patient guidelines for the ASR and other all-metal hip replacements in which it urges doctors to conduct physical examinations, diagnostic imaging, and metal ion testing as needed. The agency also proposed stricter regulations under which manufacturers would need to prove their implants were safe and effective before being allowed to sell them. Legally, these changes are a big step toward attempting to hold manufacturers responsible for any dangers linked to their products.

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