A recent settlement announced in federal court in Ohio will affect patients throughout Texas and the United States who had Johnson & Johnson/Depuy hip replacements. The settlement was the outcome of around 8,000 lawsuits brought against the company's DePuy Orthopaedics unit. The replacement device was known as the Articular Surface Replacement (ASR).
The settlement, announced on Nov. 19, will provide compensation to U.S. patients whose hip replacement devices failed prematurely, requiring them to endure additional surgeries to remove or replace the metal implant, known as a ball and socket implant. The company recalled the device from the market in August of 2010.
Under the terms of the agreement, J & J will pay around $2.47 billion to patients whose hip implants failed. In addition, the company will pay Medicare and private insurance companies that paid for replacement surgeries, known as revisions, around $1 billion. However, 94 percent of the eligible claimants must agree to the settlement for it to become binding on J & J, leaving open the possibility that J & J might be able to avoid paying the agreed-upon compensation and walk away from the deal if the requisite number of eligible claimants do not consent to the settlement.
In addition to reimbursing patients and health insurers, J & J has spent around $1 billion notifying patients and surgeons about the problems associated with the ASR hip replacement. The total cost to J & J may eventually be as much as $8 billion, in part because there are additional lawsuits still pending in other courts.
The company's 2010 recall of about 93,000 ASR implants throughout the world was based on J & J's announcement that 12 percent of the devices had failed within five years. However, internal documents showed a much higher failure rate, around 37 percent after 4.6 years. The failure rate in Australia alone was 44 percent after seven years and there have been similar reports from other parts of the world.
In contrast to the allegedly short life of the DePuy device, more conventional hip replacement implants usually last at least 15 years before they begin to wear out. In addition, many patients suffered crippling injuries as a result of the device's tendency to shed metal as it was subjected to the normal wear and tear of any weight-bearing joint. The metal debris caused tissue death and metal poisoning as well as dislocation and severe pain in some patients.
It is estimated that J & J will pay around $300,000 to each plaintiff, although the precise amount awarded will vary depending on each plaintiff's age, severity of injuries and whether more than one revision surgery was needed.
The additional cases that are not yet settled involve plaintiffs who fear they may need revision surgery to replace a DuPuy implant. In addition, J & J may face more lawsuits in other countries as well as from other U.S. plaintiffs who have not yet filed, as the settlement does not preclude additional claims.
Johnson & Johnson is one of the world's largest manufacturers of health care products. In addition to medical devices, the company sells many prescription and over-the counter medications, including the anti-psychotic Risperdal that was the subject of another recently settled lawsuit. The company, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, operates in more than 60 countries and employs around 128,700 people worldwide.
If you received a DePuy ASR hip joint and have questions about how this settlement may affect your rights, you should contact a Texas products liability attorney today. Whether or not you have yet experienced any of the serious side effects linked to the Depuy ASR hip replacement system, you may have rights under this settlement.