Judge Katz Names Alternate Plaintiff for First DePuy ASR Bellwether Trial

In December 2010, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established the DePuy ASR hip replacement device MDL in the Northern District of Ohio. Since then, thousands of injured patients have filed hip replacement lawsuits against DePuy Orthopaedics and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson.

Now, DePuy attorneys are preparing a select few cases to serve as the initial bellwether trials. These bellwether trials will help all parties to see how the juries may react to the evidence, and are expected to influence how the remaining cases will be resolved. The first case was initially scheduled to go to trial in May 2013, but on May 7, U.S. District Court Judge David Katz pushed the date back three months to September 9, 2013.

The lawsuit that was scheduled to go to trial in September was Dorney-Madgitz v. DePuy, but on July 8, 2013, Judge Katz named an alternate case for trial.

Plaintiff Alleges DePuy Hip Complications

The original case scheduled for the first bellwether trial involved plaintiff Fay Dorney-Madgitz, but her case was vacated. The new bellwether trial will be the McCracken v. DePuy case.

Plaintiff Ann McCracken of Rochester, New York, claims she was implanted with the DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip device on August 24, 2009. After the surgery, she alleges that she suffered serious hip complications that forced her to go through hip revision surgery on January 17, 2011.

McCracken’s case was already designated as one of the two alternate bellwether candidates.

DePuy Recalls ASR in 2010

McCracken is just one of thousands of plaintiffs who allege serious injuries from the DePuy ASR hip implant. Made of cobalt and chromium, the device was approved by the FDA in 2005. As early as 2007, however, the agency started receiving reports of problems with the device, including pain, immobility, and premature loosening. That year, the Australian Registry warned Johnson & Johnson about high numbers of revision surgeries with the ASR products.

Just a couple years later, in December 2009, DePuy withdrew the ASR from the Australian market, yet continued to sell it in the U.S. It wasn’t until 2010, after the National Joint Registry of England reported that at least 12 percent of all ASR implants had to be revised in 5 years, that the company made a change. In March 2010, they warned doctors of the problems, and in August 2010, they announced a voluntary recall of both the DePuy ASR total hip replacement system and the DePuy ASR resurfacing system.

Metal-on-Metal Hips Caused Metallosis

Studies prior and after the 2010 recall indicated problems with the all-metal design of the ASR. Though intended to be more durable and to provide younger patients with a better option for their active lives, the metal-on-metal design proved to be problematic because the metal components rubbed against one another during normal use.

This rubbing allegedly caused the components to shed metallic debris into the tissues surrounding the hip joint, causing inflammation, swelling, pain, premature loosening, and early device failure. Other complications could include tissue damage and death, bone loss, and even systemic illness, if the metallic fragments made their way into the bloodstream.

Today, the FDA warns about the unique complications associated with all metal implants, and many orthopedic surgeons have stopped using them.