Jury weighs first DePuy faulty hip replacement case

DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, was sued by more than 10,000 people after recalling a defective metal-on-metal hip replacement. Closing arguments in the first of the lawsuits to go to trial were made last week.

Attorneys representing the plaintiff, a 66-year-old man, told the jury that DePuy knew that the metal-on-metal hip replacements, known as ASR XL, were dangerous long before the recall was announced because the company valued profits over consumer safety.

Of course, attorneys representing DePuy denied these claims, asserting that the company spent years testing the new ASR XL hip replacements, which were intended to be a better option for people needing hip replacements. DePuy attorneys told the jury that there was “no perfect hip design.”

But the plaintiff’s attorneys argued that ASR XL hip replacements were far from perfect, and were very dangerous. They said their client now lives with pain “every single day” since being poisoned after metal shards flaked off the implant and entered his blood stream.

Once it was determined that the product was defective, DePuy treated the situation like a game, trying to negate negative publicity while thousands of people were at risk, the plaintiff’s attorneys argued. Rather than pull the product, they said DePuy decide to “manage perception.”

The plaintiff, who is a retired prison guard from Montana, is seeking $338,000 in economic damages, $5 million in economic damages for pain and suffering, and up to $179 million in punitive damages from DePuy. Attorneys for DePuy warned the jury to look at all of the evidence before making a decision.

The jury began deliberating on Friday and a decision could come out any day now. The outcome in this case is very important as it will likely set the tone for the thousands of similar lawsuits that will follow in its wake.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “First DePuy Implant Case Goes to Jury,” Matt Reynolds, March 4, 2013