DePuy Pinnacle Bellwether Hip Implant Litigation Began. Jury selection for the third bellwether trial in the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant litigation began on Monday, Sept. 19 in federal court in Dallas, Texas. The multidistrict litigation (MDL) is being overseen by U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade. Plaintiffs in the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant MDL allege that the metal-on-metal design of the implant caused injuries such as implant loosening, pain, dislocation, inflammation, tissue death and metal poisoning. The suits allege that DePuy Orthopaedics and parent company Johnson & Johnson failed to warn about the risks associated with the metal-on-metal Pinnacle hip implant.
The MDL consolidates federal Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits to one court before one judge. An MDL speeds up complex litigation because it streamlines the legal process and avoids duplicate discovery. The first lawsuits in an MDL to go to trial are known as bellwether cases. Specific lawsuits are selected as bellwether cases because they deemed representative of the entire litigation. The outcome of a bellwether trial is used to get an idea of how the remaining litigation will likely proceed; it can foster settlement talks.
DePuy issued a worldwide recall of its ASR hip implants
The current jury selection is for the third bellwether trial, Reuters reports. In March, a jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $500 million. Judge Kinkeade reduced the award to $151 million to meet Texas’ statutory cap on punitive damages. DePuy is appealing the verdict to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In the meantime, the Honorable Kinkeade has refused to delay the remaining Pinnacle trials. Roughly 8,400 lawsuits are consolidated into the MDL.
As the name suggests, metal-on-metal hip implants are devices that use all-metal contacting surfaces, as opposed to metal-on-plastic, metal-on-ceramic and other types. When metal-on-metal hip implants were first introduced, they were generally marketed for a younger, more active population. Device makers touted that the all-metal design was more durable and offered a greater range of motion.
Metal-on-metal hip implants came under increased scrutiny in August 2010, when DePuy issued a worldwide recall of its ASR hip implants due to a high rate of failure. Hip implants are expected to last long-term, 10 or 15 years, but a number of patients had failed hips within only a few years. When an implant fails due to a complication, patients are usually forced to undergo a revision surgery to remove the implant.
The main concern with metal-on-metal hip implants is that the devices can shed metal debris into the body when the surfaces of the implant rub or articulate together. This can lead to a host of other complications such as tissue death and metal poisoning (metallosis).