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DePuy ASR Bellwether Trial Delayed

On September 20, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge David A. Katz issued an order that delayed a bellwether trial in the DePuy ASR multidistrict litigation (MDL) No. 2197. The complaint is one of more than 8,200 DePuy ASR hip lawsuits centralized in the MDL, which is a type of mass litigation created to streamline the litigation proceedings, and avoid the potential for duplicative discovery and contradictory rulings.

In an MDL, the first few cases to go to trial are known as bellwether trials because they offer the involved parties a look at how juries respond to the evidence and testimony. However, this particular plaintiff will have to wait a little longer for her day in court.

DePuy ASR hip lawsuits: issues with pretrial discovery cited

The delay isn’t the only last-minute change made in the DePuy ASR hip replacement MDL proceedings. The DePuy lawsuit filed by Ann McCracken wasn’t originally intended to be the first bellwether trial. A complaint filed by Fay Dorney-Madgitz and Harvey Madgitz was intended to be the first bellwether trial. However, two months before that trial was set to begin, the McCracken complaint was substituted instead. Then, just a few days before the McCracken trial was originally scheduled to begin, it was postponed until September 24. That delay was issued because the parties needed more time for discovery.

This new order delaying the trial yet again was issued because of unspecified problems with pretrial discovery. Additionally, Judge Katz wrote, “…because of the initial continuance of this trial as aforesaid the scheduling of expert witnesses by both parties has become an extremely difficult task.” The Judge noted that he placed a high importance on the “thorough preparation and presentation” of the case. A new trial date has yet to be issued, but is expected to begin within 90 days of the order.

Plaintiff claims early implant failure

Like many other plaintiffs who have filed DePuy ASR hip lawsuits, Ann McCracken claimed early failure of her metal-on-metal hip implant device. Her complaint, which was originally filed in March 2011, noted that she underwent surgery to implant the device in August 2009. In August 2010, the manufacturer issued a DePuy ASR hip recall, citing an unusually high rate of failure. In January 2011, the plaintiff required a revision surgery to remove the allegedly defective device, despite the implant’s expected lifetime of 15 to 20 years.

When a hip implant device fails, the medical complications can have a significant impact on the patient’s quality of life. The patient is likely to experience severe, chronic pain and loss of mobility. Revision surgery is frequently necessary, which exposes the patient to additional surgical risks, such as blood clots and infections.

Additionally, the FDA launched a safety review of metal-on-metal hip implants, such as the DePuy ASR device, in February 2011. They recommended that patients undergo blood tests to check for metallosis, which is a condition that occurs when the bloodstream contains too many metal ions. Metallosis is a common complication of metal-on-metal hip devices because the components rub together. Under the effects of the friction, very small metal particles are then released into the bloodstream.

Plaintiffs who have filed DePuy ASR hip lawsuits such as Ann McCracken are seeking compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and ongoing care needs. Some cases have already been heard before state courts. Earlier in 2013, a plaintiff demanding compensation in a California state court was awarded $8.3 million.