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J&J Offers DePuy Hip Settlement, May Surpass $4 Billion

Johnson and Johnson have announced a DePuy hip settlement that may surpass $4 billion, according to the New York Times and Bloomberg. The proposed accord was recently submitted to an Ohio district court judge, and in order to move forward, must receive the support of 94 percent of eligible ASR hip plaintiffs. The settlement would resolve an estimated 8,000 personal injury/product liability claims involving the ASR hip replacement – a device that was recalled in mid 2010.

DePuy hip settlement announced by J&J

Legal counsel for Johnson and Johnson and plaintiffs said the DePuy ASR settlements may be worth more than $4 billion.

“The settlement provides compensation for eligible patients without the delay and uncertainty of protracted litigation,” said Andrew Ekdahl, president of DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction.

The terms of the accord are very straightforward: only individuals who had their ASR device implanted in the U.S. and surgically removed by August 31 are qualified to participate in the settlement. Claimants who had the ASR for less than 180 days prior to revision surgery are not eligible to receive compensation in the deal, which is structured in two parts.

The underlying question for all involved is how much compensation each plaintiff will receive. According to lawyers for J&J, under the first part of the settlement, each plaintiff will recover a “base award” of $250,000 – a figure that is subject to reductions and does not take into account legal fees. The second part of the accord includes extra damages paid to patients who can demonstrate that they suffered “extraordinary injuries” associated with the ASR device or subsequent removal.

If the DePuy hip settlement goes through, some plaintiffs would recover relatively modest base award  payouts, while others may see significant compensation depending on the length of time they had the implant and the number of revision surgeries and complications they suffered. Bloomberg reports that all ASR hip replacement patients must register their lawsuits no later than January 6, and decide whether to enroll by April 1. However, if 94 percent of claimants decide not to enroll in the accord by April 1, J&J can abandon its offer and walk away from the ASR settlement by June 1.

Fortunately, the accord will not bar individuals who have the ASR implant from requesting future compensation should the device fail down the road. This caveat will ultimately tack millions if not billions of dollars to the final amount of the settlement, which was outlined to Judge Katz less than two weeks ago. Judge Katz is overseeing the DePuy Orthopedics Inc., ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, 10-MD-2197, in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio.

ASR hip plaintiffs may demand more compensation

Some attorneys representing plaintiffs in the ASR hip litigation have said they will advise their clients to hold out for more compensation and reject the terms outlined in J&J’s proposed settlement. A base award of $250,000 may seem like a lot, but in the scope of products liability claims and a recalled medical device, this sum may prove to be insufficient for many.  While Johnson and Johnson’s $2.47 billion payout may settle 8,000 cases, an additional 4,000 DePuy hip lawsuits are still pending – filed by individuals who have not had their implants removed.

The ASR hip implant, comprised of a metal ball and a metal cup, was pulled off the market after the device was shown to suffer incredibly high failure rates — up to 40 percent within the first five years. Similar to other failed metal-on-metal hips, the ASR put patients at risk for metal contamination, local adverse tissue reactions, the formation of pseudotumors and other severe complications.