Recently, medical giant Johnson & Johnson was reportedly considering settlement of more than 11,000 DePuy ASR hip lawsuits in state and federal courts for $3 billion.
The Bloomberg article that first reported on the possible DePuy mass settlement indicated that Johnson & Johnson was awaiting the outcomes of a series of bellwether trials from September to January before making a settlement offer.
Here is a rundown of what has happened so far in the process:
1. The first bellwether trial in the federal consolidation in Ohio was supposed to begin on Sept. 24 in Cleveland. However, it was delayed 90 days to allow for more time for pretrial processes such as document discovery and to figure out a schedule suitable for all expert witnesses, according to a Sept. 20 judicial order (In re: DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation; MDL-2197, U.S District Court for the Northern District of Ohio).
2. On Oct. 1, before the start of the first bellwether trial in a California state court consolidation of ASR cases, Johnson & Johnson settled with the plaintiff for an undisclosed sum, according to court documents (DePuy ASR Hip System Cases; CJC-10-004649, San Francisco Superior Court, Calif.).
3. On Oct. 8, Bergen County District Court in New Jersey deemed a DePuy ASR hip lawsuit “resolved” and removed the matter from its trial calendar, according to court documents (MacDonald et al v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., et al; BER-L-1856-12, Bergen County, New Jersey Superior Court).
“The handful of proposed or scheduled ASR trials that are to occur this fall could mirror those that came before them, ending in settlements or being delayed,” said Rochelle Rottenstein, principal of RLG. “It is possible this is all connected to a potential mass settlement. Ultimately, though, this is generally positive news for those looking to file DePuy lawsuits. There is the potential to receive certain compensation for harms suffered as a result of the alleged side effects of the device.”
Among the side effects alleged in court documents as a result of implantation of the DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement system is its components’ likelihood to rub against each other, causing metal poisoning, or “metallosis,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Small heavy metal ions can break off into a patient’s bloodstream and cause neurological problems and other side effects, the FDA said.
In 2010 Johnson & Johnson recalled 93,000 metal-on-metal hip implants worldwide, about 33,000 of those in the United States.