In August of 2010, DePuy shocked the orthopedic community and thousands of patients by announcing the recall of its ASR metal-on-metal hip implant due to an excessive failure rate. Following this product recall, more than 13,000 individual lawsuits were filed on behalf of patients who suffered significant injuries, including the need for revision surgery; abductor muscle damage; elevated levels of cobalt and chromium in their bloodstream; metallosis; soft tissue, muscle, and bone damage; serious tissue reactions (including ALVAL and ALTR); and premature failure of the hip implants.
In early 2015, a state court jury in Tulsa, Oklahoma issued a $2.5 million verdict for compensatory damages against DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, on behalf of an Oklahoma woman who had the misfortune of having been implanted with the recalled DePuy ASR MOM hip implants in both of her hips and having to undergo multiple hip implant revision surgeries within five years of implantation. The jury declined to award punitive damages against the medical device manufacturer.
The jury found that the DePuy ASR hip implants placed in Andrea Smith’s body were defective and that the manufacturer failed to provide adequate warnings on the dangers associated with the implants, which were implanted in October of 2006 and February of 2007. In addition to undergoing multiple surgical procedures, Ms. Smith’s lawsuit contended that she suffered other injuries due to metallosis, which was documented by “metal staining” in the soft tissues that surrounded by defective hip implants and in the lymphocyte-dominated vasculitis-associated lesions noted during the pathologist’s examination of tissue removed during her revision surgeries. Tissue staining, presence of fluid around the implant, pseudotumor formation, and evidence of an immune-mediated response in the tissues surrounding the DePuy ASR hip implant are common findings in the 13,000+ plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson over the past 4 ½ years since the implant recall.
The Oklahoma case was unique in that it included the implanting orthopedic surgeon as a party to the lawsuit, and alleged that the surgeon failed to timely notify the patient of the product recall in August of 2010, which further exacerbated the plaintiff’s injuries.
The verdict from the Tulsa case was the third verdict in a DePuy ASR hip implant case. The first trial against the medical device manufacturer was in the Kransky case in Los Angeles. The Kransky case resulted in a verdict in the amount of $8.3 million against DePuy. The plaintiff in that case died after the verdict was rendered, and the case remains on appeal and no compensation has yet been paid to Mr. Kransky’s survivors. The second trial occurred in state court in Chicago and resulted in a verdict in favor of DePuy. There were several additional cases that were being prepared for trials in both state and federal courts in late 2013, but those trials were postponed due to the announcement of the $4 billion global settlement program.