The Mass Tort Unit of Searcy Denney has filed two more individual lawsuits this week against DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, over the medical device manufacturer’s recalled DePuy ASR hip implants. The firm represents several dozen plaintiffs from Florida as well as other parts of the country who have suffered serious injuries due to premature failure of the hip implant devices as well as metallosis.

A lawsuit was filed on behalf of a St. Cloud, Florida resident who was implanted with bilateral DePuy ASR hip implants, the first surgery in late 2007 and the second one nearly a year later in December of 2008. This plaintiff had suffered with significant pain stemming from osteoarthritis in his hips for several years prior to undergoing the total hip arthroplasty surgeries.

Like so many patients, he was hopeful that the joint replacement surgeries would alleviate his pain and allow him to continue to be active. For the first year or two after the hip replacement surgeries, he did quite well following his post-operative recovery and intensive physical therapy.

He began to have problems with his hips in approximately 2009. When the DePuy ASR recall was announced in August of 2010, he was evaluated by his Central Florida orthopedic surgeon and x-rays failed to show any significant issues with the implant. This evaluation was within weeks of the announcement of the recall at a time when patients and surgeons had very little experience with failure of the DePuy ASR and other metal-on-metal hip implants and the guidelines for the evaluation of patients was changing virtually month-to-month. This patient had blood work performed to evaluate his cobalt and chromium levels, where were higher than normal.

Elevated metal ion levels are an important indicator of whether a patient is experiencing premature failure of their hip implants. The cobalt and chromium toxicity is also important, as there are concerns that patients may have suffer systemic effects from the heavy metals including visual disturbances, hearing loss, seizures, tremors, cognitive dysfunction including memory loss, balance or vestibular disorders, polycythemia, and chronic fatigue. For this particular patient, repeat blood work in 2011 showed that his levels of cobalt and chromium metal ions were continuing to increase, a condition that is now recognized as an indicator for the need for a revision surgery.

A second lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Lake Placid, Florida man who underwent a total hip arthroplasty surgery in 2007 at a Central Florida hospital. That implant failed, which has led to numerous hip implant revision surgeries since then. As a result of complications from the DePuy hip implants, the patient has experienced significant hip pain, limitations in his ability to perform activities of daily living, significant medical expenses, and problems with ambulation.

At this time, there are several thousand individual lawsuits pending before Judge Katz in Toledo, who oversees the multi-district litigation proceedings against Johnson & Johnson. There are also a large number of individual cases pending in state court venues as well.

The Searcy Denney law firm is litigating one of the few DePuy ASR lawsuits pending in state court in Florida, and is scheduled for trial in that case in November of 2013 in Palm Beach County. The first MDL trials are scheduled for May and July of 2013 with several state court trials set in other states for 2013. The first DePuy ASR cases that were scheduled to go to trial in Nevada state court in December of 2012 were settled for amounts that are covered by a confidentiality agreement.