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DePuy Class Action Hip Lawsuit Filed in U.K.: One of Largest Ever

Zimmer Durom Cup Hip ImplantA class action suit against DePuy International Ltd.’s Pinnacle Ultamet hip replacement was filed in mid-October in the United Kingdom. The suit, with more than 300 claimants, is one of the largest ever brought against a company there. DuPuy is a subsidiary of United States-based company Johnson & Johnson.

Metal Particle Release Into Patients Alleged

The allegations center around premature implant failure and product liability. The suits allege that Pinnacle Ultamet hip replacements:

  • Failed to reduce symptoms for which the patients had artificial hip surgery
  • Necessitated revision surgery in many cases
  • Released metal particles into patients

The metal particles released into patients can cause both local and systemic damage, including muscle necrosis, soft tissue injury, pain, numbness in the legs, and difficulty in maintaining a proper gait.

Many of the plaintiffs had revision surgery to remove the hip implants as a result of the symptoms.

The Pinnacle Ultamet hip implants were discontinued in the United Kingdom four years ago. The company cited a low rate of use.

DePuy is arguing against the claims, maintaining that the hip implants led to less pain for patients and restored their mobility in many cases.

In the second week of the trial, the court heard expert testimony for the plaintiffs indicating that experiments to prove the safety of the product were flawed. The testimony alleges that the experiments did not assure the proper cleaning of the devices, which made proper testing of their wear rate impossible.

Litigation Against Two DuPuy Artificial Hip Models in the U.S.

Litigation against the DuPuy Pinnacle Ultamet in the U.K. is not the only litigation over its hip implants the company is facing. In the U.S., patients have brought DePuy hip lawsuits against the ASR XL Acetabular System, ASR Hip Resurfacing System, and the Pinnacle Acetabular Cup System for a number of health issues, including:

  • Loosening prematurely
  • Metallosis (metal poisoning)
  • Extreme pain
  • Dislocation of the hip
  • Fractures of bone
  • Early revision surgery

Patients with these products who have experienced these issues continue to bring them to the attention of attorneys.

Seven years ago, the company voluntarily recalled the ASR hip system from the market due to a higher than anticipated failure rate. The Pinnacle remains available.

A multidistrict litigation (MDL) exists for ASR lawsuits in Ohio and a multicounty litigation (MCL) exists against the same product in New Jersey Superior Court. An MDL is pending trial in Texas for the Pinnacle.

In the past, the company has settled several consolidated cases regarding its hip replacement products before they were tried in court. The first was an ASR MDL which was set for a 2013 trial. The second was an ASR MCL.

In the first Pinnacle MDL that did go to trial, the jury found for the defense.

In the second, however, the plaintiffs received a verdict of more than $500 million, which was later reduced to $150 million.

In the most recent U.S. trial on the Pinnacle hip replacement late last year, the jury granted a verdict of more than $1 billion. However, the award was later nearly halved by the judge, who agreed with the plaintiffs that the verdict reflected the manufacturer’s failure to warn patients and the medical community that the prosthetic hip was unsafe, but who cited constitutional concerns that the punitive damage award was too large.

Additional “DePuy hip replacement lawsuit” resources:

  1. Bodkin, Henry. “Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Patients Sue Manufacturer In ‘Biggest Ever’ Class Action.” The Telegraph, October 14, 2017.
  2. Chellel, Kit. “J&J Unit Sued Over ‘Defective’ Hip Implants in U.K. Trial.” Bloomberg, October 16, 2017.
  3. Heighton, Luke. “DePuy Hip Replacement Safety Tests Were Seriously Flawed, High Court Hears.” The Telegraph, October 25, 2017.