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DePuy Hip Settlement Reached in CA State Court

DePuy ASR hip replacement lawsuit has reportedly been settled, avoiding trial in a case that was set to begin later this month in California state court.  Johnson & Johnson, the parent of DePuy Orthopaedics, the maker of the DePuy ASR hip replacement system, is facing about 11,500 product liability lawsuits nationwide on behalf of individuals who experienced problems with the replacement hips.  They were recalled in August 2010 due to reports that a large number of patients needed replacement surgery within a few years of having them implanted.

A lawsuit filed by Robert Eugene Ottman was scheduled for an early trial date in San Francisco Superior Court.  According to a report by Harris Martin, this case settled recently and the Court gave the parties two months to file the necessary pleadings to dismiss this claim. Details of the DePuy hip settlement have not been released.

Bellwether trials may foretell future case outcomes

Mr. Ottman alleged the ASR device caused problems that necessitated revision surgery. This DePuy ASR hip replacement lawsuit is one of a number of cases across the country known as bellwether cases.  They are scheduled to start before most of the thousands of others and help the parties gauge how juries will respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated in similar lawsuits pending nationwide. So far, trial outcomes in state courts have been mixed. Earlier this year, a California jury awarded $8.3 million in damages in one case but a trial held in Illinois resulted in a defense verdict for the manufacturer.

In the federal court system, all DePuy ASR lawsuits are consolidated for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio.  A small number of these bellwether cases are being prepared for early trial dates to try to facilitate settlements. The first federal DePuy ASR trial was scheduled to begin in September. The case was delayed at least two times last month and is now scheduled to start in January 2014. Although the court indicated that additional time was needed to prepare the case for trial, continuing settlement negotiations may have been a reason for the delay.

Following the early bellwether trials, if the parties do not reach DePuy hip settlement agreements to resolve a large number of cases, thousands of individual lawsuits could be remanded back to U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for separate trial dates.

Previous DePuy hip settlement offer rejected

According to recent reports, Johnson & Johnson is considering an offer to plaintiffs of more than $3 billion to settle DePuy ASR lawsuits, which would average about $300,000 per case. According to a report by Bloomberg News in January 2013, plaintiffs rejected an offer of $2 billion, which would have averaged about $200,000 per case, because it did not provide sufficient compensation for injuries suffered by plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs allege their DePuy ASR replacement hip systems are defective. The artificial hips were part of a global ASR hip recall in 2010. Allegations include blood poisoning by metal fragments coming off its parts, the parts dislocating and failing, bones attached to the system fracturing, limited mobility and chronic pain due to the implant.