Fourth Bellwether Trial for DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant

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Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

On September 5, 2017, the fourth bellwether defective hip implant lawsuit will go to trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The lawsuit involves the allegedly defective Pinnacle Ultamet hip implants manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

A bellwether trial means the verdict in the case may provide insight into how other juries might decide claims in upcoming trials with similar allegations. This DePuy hip case will involve product liability and personal injury claims filed on behalf of seven Pinnacle hip patients from New York and New Jersey.

Former DePuy Pinnacle Verdicts

In 2014, the first DePuy Pinnacle bellwether hip trial ended with a verdict in favor of the defense. In 2016, the second bellwether trial awarded a total of $500 million to the five plaintiffs. The jury award was reduced to $151 million, in compliance with Texas law governing punitive damages.

The third bellwether trial took place in March 2017. The six injured Pinnacle hip replacement recipients were awarded over $1 billion. That award was subsequently reduced to $543 million.

There are currently more than 9,000 Pinnacle hip failure lawsuits, consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Texas. An MDL is often created to consolidate cases with similar complaints to be heard in one court before one judge. This typically lowers court costs, allows a faster outcome, and is generally more efficient.

Allegations of Insufficient Evidence

It was argued in an earlier lawsuit that J&J should not be held responsible for products made by DePuy. It was also allegedly expressed that evidence was insufficient to support a strict liability claim that a safer design for the hip implant existed, or that an express warranty claimed that it was promised by J&J that the hip implants were not defective. It was also suggested that it was not proven that plaintiffs’ injuries were necessarily a result of a manufacturing defect in DePuy’s hip implant.

National law firm Parker Waichman LLP has extensive experience and success in medical device litigation, including allegedly defective hip implants. The firm’s attorneys are available to answer legal questions from individuals seeking information for a potential lawsuit.

Pinnacle Implant Not Yet Recalled

Although the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular metal-on-metal hip replacement has been recalled, the Pinnacle system has not been recalled. However, DePuy has been criticized for an unacceptable and exceedingly high rate of failure of its Pinnacle hip implants. Common symptoms of hip implant failure are: difficulty walking, standing or bearing weight; loosening of the implant; clicking or snapping sounds; unexplained hip pain; hip dislocation; cysts around the joint; tissue death (necrosis); bone erosion; and metallosis.

In a DePuy Pinnacle hip implant, a metal ball is placed against a metal socket, or cup, which during normal activity, such as walking or running, causes friction. This friction releases cobalt and chromium into the hip joint, so tiny metal particles may go into the blood, bone, and surrounding tissue causing the condition called metallosis.

Any of the aforementioned symptoms or conditions are likely to require painful and costly revision surgery.

Previous Complaints Regarding DePuy Implants

As far back as 2008, the British Daily Telegraph noted that DePuy had knowledge and had admitted to “error in measuring techniques.” These errors caused the devices to be sized incorrectly, and no matter now miniscule the discrepancy might have been, it led to pain and injury in thousands of patients.

In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began a safety review of metal-on-metal hip replacements. In 2013, the agency confirmed that exposure to metal ions released from the devices may cause severe local tissue reaction and may enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to additional symptoms or illnesses.  The FDA announced that metal-on-metal hips were linked to higher rates of failure compared to hip implants with alternative components.

DePuy Orthopaedics announced in May 2011, it would phase out metal-on-metal hip implants, including the device implicated in Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits. The company cited as a factor in its decision, diminishing sales, as well as the FDA’s intention to enforce more stringent regulations on all-metal hip implants, according to The New York Times.

Have You Been Injured by a DePuy Hip Implant?

If you or someone you know has sustained injury involving a metal-on-metal hip implant, such as a DePuy Pinnacle hip implant, you may be eligible for valuable compensation. Parker Waichman personal injury law firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. We urge you to contact us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).