As the product liability trial over the DePuy ASR (Johnson & Johnson) metal-on-metal hip implants gets underway in Los Angeles, there comes a report that Johnson & Johnson is negotiating a potential settlement with the injured that could cost the company more than $2 billion. Businessweek says it checked with five sources in the matter to prepare the report.
However, Steven J. Skikos, co-lead counsel of the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, denies there are any settlement talks.
“The lawyers and leadership in the cooperating jurisdictions (the Federal Multi District Litigation, California, New Jersey, and Illinois) are working for the benefit of the 35,000 United States patients who have this recalled medical device. Any comment relating to settlement that does not come from leadership, or the court, or from the company itself, is speculative and uninformed,” he said in an issued statement, adding that right now the focus is on trial preparation.
By way of background you’ll recall there were about 93,000 DePuy metal-on-metal hips made by J&J recalled in August of 2010, including 37,000 in the U.S.
The problem – a failure rate that exceeded 12 percent within five years.
Our clients claim permanent injuries, bone fractures, metal debris left behind, as well as tissue death around the implant site, also known as adverse local tissue reaction (ALTR) or adverse reaction to metal debris (ARMD). Chromium and cobalt components can shed debris that enters the bloodstream and may also put the patient at risk for bladder and kidney cancers.
According to the FDA, there are risks inherent with any hip implant but metal-on-metal (MoM) hips have additional problems. Unfortunately, the FDA says it does not have enough information to understand the full extent to which metal debris accumulation causes symptoms or illness. However, as of January 2013, the agency said it does not believe a patient with a metal hip needs to undergo routine metal ion blood level checks if their doctor feels the hip is functioning properly.
As is customary, a J&J company spokeswoman issued a statement, “DePuy believes the evidence to be presented at trial will show the company acted appropriately and responsibly.” Businessweek reports that, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company has increased its reserves in anticipation of liability litigation costs.
Besides the trial in Los Angeles that is underway there are about 10,000 lawsuits pending with most of the pretrial evidence consolidated in Toledo, Ohio. Attorneys involved in the litigation say they deposed more than 50 witnesses and reviewed more than 50 million pages of documents.
Next month another trial is expected to start in Chicago, and a third is scheduled in federal court in May, also in Toledo, Ohio. And next year expect a round of DePuy Pinnacle lawsuits to be heard. The Pinnacle was the successor to the ASR and ultimately those cases could far outnumber the ASR in that about 150,000 Pinnacle hips were implanted in U.S. patients.
The Pinnacle remains on the market.