It’s now been two years since Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy division announced the recall of their defective ASR metal on metal hip implants. The recall was the result of reports from across the world of the units failing at unacceptable rates, and there’s even been evidence to suggest that metal shavings from the prostheses can enter a person’s bloodstream and cause further complications. With cases having been filed by patients throughout the entire country, we now have word that the first claims have been settled.
The three cases were settled in Nevada at the state level for somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000. One University of Michigan business professor puts this amount on the low end of what DePuy was likely going to have to pay, saying that the figure could have been up to $300,000 higher.
The settled cases involved patients under the care of one particular surgeon, as evidenced by Las Vegas court filings. The three people who had the implants installed all reported experiencing pain and side effects, and were thus forced to submit to a corrective surgery that was far more painful, and entailing a lengthier rehab process than the initial procedure. One person reportedly sustained bone damage, while another allegedly became ill due to metal shavings from the device. The defense team countered this latter assessment.
These are only the first of many, many cases currently awaiting trial. The next batch of claims are set to go to trial at the state level in Maryland in January if a settlement isn’t reached. But the lion’s share of the 8,000 or so claims that have been filed have been consolidated at the federal level under a judge based in Toledo, Ohio. 6,000 federal suits have been brought together to necessitate evidence gathering at the pretrial stage. These consolidated cases could go before a judge in March or April of next year if a settlement doesn’t happen. Plus, 2,000 additional cases have been filed against Johnson & Johnson in numerous states across the country, including California.
Johnson & Johnson estimates that the recall has already cost the company about $800 million before product liability costs were taken into account. The aforementioned professor believes that the total cost could be in the realm of $2 billion once all the cases are settled or brought to trial.
With 37,000 people having received the metal on metal hip implant device, and an estimated 12% failure rate in the first five years of use, it remains to be seen whether even more claims will be brought against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson.