Oct 13, 2014 - Articles - by Dodson & Hooks, APLC
On August 24, 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, announced a recall of its highly-touted Articular Surface Replacement hip devices. When DePuy first began to market the ASR hip devices in 2005, the company claimed that the design would last much longer than traditional hip replacement devices. However, reports of adverse patient reactions to the ASR devices began to flood in, until the company was forced to recall the devices. Over 10,750 people filed lawsuits because of the injuries they suffered from the ASR hip devices. The jury in the first of the cases to go to trial ordered Johnson & Johnson to compensate the patient.
Johnson & Johnson to pay damages
During the five-week trial, the man who received the hip implant presented evidence that the design of the ASR hip device was flawed, causing problems in patients such as:
- Tissue death near the implant site
- Pain and swelling near the implant
- Metal poisoning
The complications that resulted from the implant caused many to need “revision” surgeries to fix the matter. An analysis that Johnson & Johnson conducted in 2011 showed that about 37 percent of the ASR devices would fail, requiring revision surgery, within four to six years. In comparison, artificial hip devices normally last about 15 years, with a failure rate of about 5 percent.
The jury found that DePuy’s design was defective, leading to the patient’s injuries. The jury awarded the patient $338,000 compensation for medical expenses and $8 million for his pain and suffering.
The patient had sought $5.3 million in compensatory damages and $179 million in punitive damages because he believed that the company had known about the problems with the ASR hip devices and covered them up. The jury found that DePuy had given sufficient warnings of the risks associated with the ASR devices and did not act with fraud or malice, so it did not award punitive damages.
Johnson & Johnson announced plans to appeal the finding that its design was flawed, arguing that it should have been allowed to present evidence to the jury that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved the ASR hip device for sale.
Impact on future claims
Johnson & Johnson faces almost 11,000 more lawsuits from those who have suffered injuries from ASR hip devices. Experts believe that the decision in the first case is beneficial for plaintiffs, as a jury has already found the design of the devices flawed. However, some argue that because the jury failed to award punitive damages in the first case it will be harder for patients to win punitive damages in future cases.
Speak with an attorney
Health care providers and medical device manufacturers need to be held accountable when they make errors that harm patients. If you have been injured from a medical error, talk to an experienced personal medical malpractice attorney who can help you recover just and proper compensation.