During the last two years, Plaintiffs from all over Illinois, from Chicagoland to Rockford, have filed complaints against DePuy Orthopaedics (“DePuy”) for its role in designing, manufacturing, marketing and distributing faulty hip implants that led to serious and permanent injuries. Devon C. Bruce of Power Rogers is representing nine of these Illinois Plaintiffs.
DePuy is a multi-national company owned by Johnson & Johnson that sells products used for repairing and reconstructing joints and other portions of the skeleton. According to The New York Times, it is the largest maker of replacement hips worldwide. And, according to DePuy’s website, in August of 2010, it issued a voluntary recall of its hip implants called “ASRs.” These ASRs first became available in July of 2003 and remained on the market for 7 years despite mounting research indicating that these ASR implants were unsafe and caused permanent injuries to their users.
The ASRs manufactured by DePuy belong to a category of devices known as “metal-on-metal” implants. Such implants caused concern when it was realized that they generate large amounts of metallic debris during use.
This debris, floating free in a patient’s system, can cause severe and permanent damage to muscles and other soft tissues. (See Reference 2, below.) In fact, some surgeons reported finding masses of dead tissue around patients’ hip joints when performing surgery to replace the faulty implant. (See Reference 1, below.)
According to certain reports, such as this article that appeared in The New York Times, the ASR hip implant was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) because of a loophole in the FDA’s approval system. Whereas new products are required to undergo a series of clinical trials before receiving approval from the FDA, an implant, such as DePuy’s ASR implant, can be sold without extensive testing if it resembles one that is already in use. Experts criticize this exception to the FDA’s general standard because it allows certain untested components to gain approval and be distributed to the general public before it is determined that they are safe for implantation. (See Reference 1, below.)
For some, the faulty ASR implant required additional painful procedures in which the device was surgically replaced with another implant. For others, however, the damage to bone, muscles and nerves left them with permanent disability. In the case of Mr. Bruce’s clients, the damage was severe and included extreme pain, permanent scarring and toxic levels of cobolt and chromium in patients’ blood.
Mr. Bruce commented, “our clients made the decision to have a hip replacement in order to alleviate the pain and dsiability they were experiencing, only to find that the implant they received would cause them even greater injury and, in some cases, permanent disability.” He added, “Had DePuy tested this metal-on-metal implant according to industry standards, the implant’s defects could have been discovered and all of these injuries could have been avoided.”
The cases are currently pending in multidistrict litigation in the Northern District of Ohio and the parties are undergoing discovery in order to determine how much DePuy knew regarding the ASR’s faulty design at the time it was first marketed to the public.