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Two Medical Monitoring Cases Dropped In Favor of Personal Injury DePuy ASR Lawsuits

In Cleveland, two DePuy ASR lawsuits have been added to the growing number of complaints involving the controversial hip implants. The plaintiffs withdrew from a medical monitoring class action in order to file the personal injury lawsuits, citing recent revision surgeries as the reason for their change of tack.

The men are two of 13 plaintiffs from Indiana and Illinois who filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in November 2010. The complaint sought to cover the costs of medical monitoring rather than win monetary damages for those involved, but none of the plaintiffs had been forced to undergo revision surgery at the time. In their June 12 motion to withdraw from the class action, the pair stated that their hip replacements had since failed, requiring replacements in February of this year. They have now filed their own DePuy hip personal injury lawsuit in Illinois state court.

A similar motion relating to two female plaintiffs was granted last November by Judge David Katz, who is overseeing the coordinated DePuy ASR lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL 2197).

More than 10,000 DePuy ASR lawsuits pending

All over the country, state and federal courts are processing in excess of 10,000 DePuy ASR lawsuits. Each lawsuit makes similar allegations about the high-failure rate of the metal-on-metal hip replacements and their propensity to cause metallosis (metal poisoning) in recipients. The legal drama surrounding the implants grew more intense after DePuy’s parent company Johnson & Johnson withdrew the ASR system from the market in August 2010, in what appeared to be a tacit admission of culpability.

The DePuy ASR recall was prompted by research data showing a failure rate of 1 in 8 devices – considerably higher than with traditional implants. Some medical experts have estimated the failure rate to be even higher – perhaps as high as 30% over the course of six years (versus the ten years of life expected from traditional hip implants). By the time the  recall was conducted, around 90,000 patients had been implanted with the system worldwide.

FDA’s approval process implicated in DePuy ASR lawsuits

The FDA’s 510k ‘fast-track’ approval process has been cited in multiple lawsuits. The  process allowed a number of metal-on-metal implants – including the ASR DePuy hip replacement – to be granted swift approval due to a substantial similarity to pre-existing devices. DePuy was allowed to bypass clinical trials which might have demonstrated the high risk of early failure.

In the wake of negative publicity surrounding metal-on-metal implants, the FDA issued new guidelines to physicians demanding that the devices only be used when there is no alternative, and that close attention is paid to recipients. Additionally, the FDA has ordered manufacturers to prove the safety and efficacy of existing systems, and to undergo rigorous clinical trials before releasing any new products.

DePuy ASR lawsuits consolidated in NJ

Earlier this year, more than 600 DePuy ASR lawsuits were consolidated into a multi-county litigation (MCL). The proceedings are being overseen by Judge Brian R. Martinotti in the Superior Court of New Jersey for Bergen County. The first bellwether trial, designed to identify jury decisions and other potential outcomes of the MCL, is scheduled to begin October 21.

The MDL in Ohio is scheduled to hear its first bellwether trial on September 9. The only predictors for both sets of proceedings are the first two DePuy lawsuits heard in state courts. In one, the plaintiff was awarded an $8.3 million jury verdict, but the other case resulted in a defense victory for DePuy.