On behalf of our clients, our firm has been closely following the cases of defective hip replacements from Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy unit. The problem has spawned thousands of defective medical device lawsuits nationwide, from patients who received a faulty hip implant and then had to have corrective surgery when the implant failed long before it should have. So I was interested to read about a settlement announced last week and criticism of that settlement from some of the people it was designed to benefit. Johnson & Johnson will pay $2.5 billion to settle about 8,000 lawsuits pending in Ohio federal court, with compensation of $160,000 per patient after attorney fees. The upset patients say they believe this is insufficient compared to the attorney fees, which the New York Times said could be as much as $90,000 a case.
The problems were with the ASR hip replacement implants, which are metal devices implanted in patients who need their hip joints replaced. Studies showed that the devices failed in unreasonably large numbers within the first five years of being implanted. The kind of metal used was blamed for the failures; as the parts rubbed together, metal fragments were released into the body, causing further pain. To solve the problem, patients had to have a second hip replacement surgery—a serious prospect for the older people who are the major demographic for hip replacement. Some of the patients had further complications such as infections, increasing their pain, costs and time when they were unable to walk normally. Internal Johnson & Johnson documents suggest that officials knew about the problems well in advance of the 2010 recalls.
The settlement covers only the lawsuits pending in Ohio federal court, from patients whose implants were removed or replaced before August 31, 2013. Suits in many other courts will remain unresolved. Most class members will get an average of $160,000 to compensate them for their pain and suffering and excess surgery. Patients may see their recoveries reduced based on their age, smoking, weight or having the hip replacement for more than five years. There’s another pool of $475 million to compensate people who experienced serious complications like infections, dislocated joints or blood clots. That includes patients like Celeste Laney of Albuquerque, who had complications from her second hip replacement that left her disabled, unemployed, uninsured and in constant pain. Nonetheless, Laney told the New York Times that she wouldn’t take the settlement.
Patients are free to opt out, but as the article notes, it’s not clear that they will ultimately be better compensated. Payments to those taking the settlement could start next year, whereas people pursuing individual defective hip replacement lawsuits could wait several years. Furthermore, such patients may not get any more money than they stand to get from the settlement; the two cases that have gone to trial so far have had dramatically different outcomes. And of course, taking a case to trial would not remove the need to pay plaintiffs’ pharmaceutical liability attorneys, one of whom said her firm spent millions preparing for trial. Patients should discuss their options thoroughly with an experienced attorney before deciding.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries from a medical device with serious safety flaws, you should contact Carey, Danis & Lowe today to discuss how we can help. We represent clients across the United States from our home base in St. Louis. To learn more or set up a free consultation, call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400 or send us a message online.
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Johnson and Johnson Considering $3 Billion in Settlements of Defective Hip Implant Cases
Internal Messages Show Johnson and Johnson Lied About Safety Studies on Hip Replacement
Fifth Circuit Resurrects Defective Medical Device Claim Involving Hip Replacement – Bass v. Stryker Corp. et al.