The first major hearing on the individual lawsuits and class action lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for the recall of the DePuy ASR XL hip implants took place in Durham, North Carolina on Thursday, November 18, 2010. The federal judges on the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation heard arguments from lawyers for Johnson and Johnson as well as lawyers for consumers who were injured or who are affected by the recall. The hearing was to determine whether all the lawsuits should be coordinated before one federal judge for pretrial management, and if so, which judge should be assigned to handle the cases.
Lawyers from across the country attended the hearing. Many consumer trial lawyers also met privately with each other to share information that had been accumulated about the recall and to determine how to best represent injured consumers.
It is clear from evidence shared among attorneys in Durham that Johnson & Johnson had known about an unacceptably high failure rate for the DePuy ASR for several years prior to the recall and that the product should have been recalled much sooner. The Australian National Joint Replacement Registry had shown unacceptably high failure rates for the DePuy ASR for several years.
The most seroius health risk from the DePuy ASR is the exposure of patients to high levels of chromium and cobalt metal debris from the implants. The poor design of the ASR XL causes too much pressure on the edges of the cup causing excessive wear which releases metal debris into the patients hip. Chromium and cobalt occur naturally in the body at very low levels. However, the high levels released by the DePuy ASR are toxic to the tissues in the hip. These toxic metals can also damage other organs of the body. Medical studies of chromium and cobalt exposure in industrial setting have show that these metals are toxic to the liver, kidneys, and brain. This has not yet been proven with respect to the DePuy hip but it is a possible risk. Chromium has been shown to be a human lung carcinogen in industrial settings but no studies have yet been done with regard to the DePuy ASR failures.
Consumer trial lawyers, including myself, and Johnson & Johnson are recommending blood testing of DePuy ASR patients for the presence of these toxic metals to determine the amounts of exposure and help physicans made medical decisions about whether and additional surgery is needed to replace the DePuy ASR with another hip implant of a different kind.
I think any DePuy ASR patient should get legal and medical advice immediately even if there are no symptoms because there is a risk of toxic exposure to from the metal debris that can be created by the hip implant. Health damage from the toxic metal exposure may not show up for long periods of time.
There are strict time limits for filing claims against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy that will bar claims that are late. These time periods for filing vary by states and circumstances so I can’t give a specific deadline in this article. Each case needs an individual analysis by an attorney experienced in medical product liability cases to determine the required filing date. I am happy to discuss the scientific or legal issues with anyone who would like to call or email me.
Admitted to both the California State Bar and the Florida State Bar, Joseph Saunders has also practiced in the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representation and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury or death at the hands of insurance companies, large corporations, medical providers or governmental entities.