Hip Replacement Lawsuits
If you or a loved one have had any of the metal-on-metal hip replacement products implanted in your body it is important that you or they begin an investigation into what product was used and to undergo testing for damage regardless of whether or not you are experiencing symptoms. Metallosis, caused by friction or fretting between to metal parts, can silently build up in the body for years without obvious symptoms.
If not discovered quickly enough this form of metal poisoning can lead to tissue and bone death in the area of the implant or to remote organ damage as a result of being transported to anther location within the body via the bloodstream.
The first step in the evaluating whether or not a hip replacement lawsuit is right for you or a loved one is to gather as much information as possible with regard to your replacement surgery, including any hospital or other medical records pertaining o the surgery. If you have seen a doctor regarding problems you are having with the implant then those records should also be collected for review.
Litigation over Stryker's Recalled Hip Implants
Since the introduction of the Stryker Rejuvenate and the ABG II devices Stryker and federal regulators at the FDA have received numerous reports of product failures, including examples of metal corrosion, commonly known as fretting, as well as a number of complaints dealing with inflammation of the the tissue surrounding the implant believe to be caused by the microscopic pieces of metal that are created in the fretting process. More serious is the concern that ions from those metal pieces have been known to produce a condition known as "metallosis" which is known to have a substantial adverse impact on the various organs within the body.
Public reaction to the problems associated with the recalled Stryker products has been swift. Over 140 hip cases, including claims against Stryker are now pending in the New Jersey superior court. In order to streamline discovery and other pretrial procedures as well as avoid inconsistency in rulings on similar issues, a multicounty litigation (MCL) order has been entered by the Honorable Brian R. Martinotti effectively combining those cases for pretrial purposes. Further Judge Martinotti entered an order in April of 2013 requiring both plaintiffs and defense attorneys to submit 5 cases each for mediation in an effort to promote settlement of these claims.
Litigation over DePuy's Recalled Hip Implants
Given the significant number of Depuy ASR patients that have suffered from post-operative complications it is not surprising that thousands of patients are seeking to recover damages for injuries sustained from this defective product. Among other injuries, metallosis was a key issue in the case of Loren Kransky wherein a California jury awarded him over $8 million in early 2012.
Expert testimony found that as a result of fretting between metal parts of the ASR implant, metal debris had been released into Mr. Kransky's bloodstream resulting in metal ion levels over 7 times higher than what was medically considered normal. Adding insult to injury Mr. Kransky's attorneys were able to show internal reports from Depuy employees that suggested that Depuy had used flawed methods for testing the safety of the products prior to marketing them to the public.
To date it is estimated that over 10,000 claims have been filed over the ASR hip product. Depuy has announced that it has set side over $900 million to deal with these claims however many legal analysts familiar with this litigation suggest that the true cost of settlement for all ASR claims could reach $2 billion or more.
Other Hip Implants Subject to Litigation
In addition to the Stryker and DePuy hip implant devices that have become the subjects of litigation from injured patients, there are a number of other devces that have come under intense scrutiny and been subject to litigation, including:
- Conserve Plus manufactured by Wright Medical
- R3 Acetabular System manufactured by Smith and Nephew
- Durom Cup manufactured by Zimmer
- M2a metal device manufactured by Biomet
What Do These Devices Have in Common?
The one thing that all of these devices have in common is the use of metal components in the manufacturing process. Frequently these devices either fail outright or, perhaps worse, continue to work while silently releasing microscopic flakes of metal into the surrounding tissue and bloodstream. In addition to complications related to loosening of the device and/or complete failure, the metal ions associated with the fretting caused by friction of metal rubbing against metal has caused bone damage, inflammation of the surrounding tissue and metal poisoning carried throughout the body in the bloodstream, known as metallosis.
In a great number of these products it has become necessary for patients to undergo painful and expensive revision surgery, all with the knowledge that the problems could have been avoided through adequate testing. Sadly in many cases of revision surgery the outcomes carry a lower chance of success due to the damage caused by the original surgery.
Statute of Limitations
Most jurisdictions place a time limit, known as a statute of limitation, on all types of claims for personal injuries that occur within their jurisdiction. Each state has it own statute so it is important to speak with a law firm that has a history of nationwide practice.
Litigation over bad drugs and medical devices is a highly specialized area of the law. Local attorneys whether involved in general practice or even those that specialize in personal injury are unlikely to have the expertise and experience necessary to compete with the billion dollar international corporations who manufacture these products. Just as important is the need to hire a firm that has the financial resources available to engage in this most expensive type of litigation. Small, under-funded operations can be crushed by an army of highly skilled and well-funded attorneys that are typically hired by the device makers.
Class Action Lawsuits Against DePuy & Stryker
Sooner or later in almost all litigation involving drugs or medical devices which have injured a great number of people the question arises as to whether a class action will be established. Generally speaking, due to the significant and often unique nature of the injuries suffered, a class action is not appropriate.
However, because of the similar issues of fact regarding fault and some other issues common to most injured parties are present, special types of procedural rules have evolved which are somewhat similar to class actions. In the federal courts this special procedure is known as a Multi District Litigation (MDL) and in the state court systems it is called a Multi County Litigation (MCL). Essentially, both procedures are designed to save time and money as well as avoid inconsistency in rulings on similar issues by grouping the cases together for certain pretrial proceedings.
An example of this can be seen in the MCL which was recently established before the Honorable Brian R. Martinotti in the New Jersey Superior Court where over 140 defective hip cases are now pending. As part of the formation of these procedural devices each side generally has the opportunity to appoint a number of their best lawyers to represent the interests of all the parties in the proceeding.
Clearly if an attorney is so respected that he or she has been appointed or elected to that high position of trust with regard to that particular product then that would certainly be an attorney that you should consider retaining to represent your interest. Don't hesitate to ask any prospective attorney who wants to represent you or your loved one whether anyone in their firm has been selected to serve on the plaintiff's committee.
Finding The Best Attorney For You
First and foremost you have to do your homework. When a firm is recommended to you open your computer and investigate them. Ask the basic questions such as:
- How big is the firm?
- How long have they been involved in defective drug and device litigation?
- Have they successfully represented clients with similar problems in the past?
Without suggesting every possible question the point to be noted is that you should follow your instincts and ask the questions that appear to be relevant from your perspective. You, or your loved one, will only get one opportunity to right the wrong that has been done to you. Don't be afraid to ask all the questions that are important to you before you agree to representation.