Depuy Hip Lawsuit And Settlement status
Lawsuit and Settlement Status for April to June 2019
Depuy Hip Lawsuit Lawsuit and Settlement Status: April to June 2019
July 17, 2019
Author: Daniel Gala
From the reopening of a criminal poisoning investigation to ongoing clashes with the government of India to being lampooned by HBO satirist John Oliver, the second portion of 2019 saw some significant, if sometimes unexpected, developments in the DePuy hip implant saga. Here’s a recap of all that has taken place over the past three months.
DePuy Pinnacle Hip Settlement: Details Of Reported Deal To Resolve US MDL Slowly Trickle Out
Since 2011, federal products liability lawsuits involving DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants have been centralized as multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Texas. In February 2019, it was widely reported that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary DePuy had reached an agreement to settle most if not all of the thousands of outstanding claims. However, terms of the settlement remained confidential, with J&J refusing for months even to confirm its existence publicly.
April 2019: Amid Reports of Settlement, New Cases Continue To Be Transferred to DePuy Pinnacle MDL
Months after a settlement agreement reportedly had been reached to resolve the DePuy Pinnacle MDL, new cases continued to be transferred to the massive multidistrict litigation, which already included roughly 10,000 individual lawsuits.
As TheLawFirm.com reported at the time, “On April 2 alone, three new cases naming DePuy and Johnson & Johnson among the defendants were filed with the Northern District of Texas, with dozens of new cases having been filed in recent weeks.”
Terms of the reported settlement agreement still remained unknown at the time.
See e.g. Shatz v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. et al, filed April 2, 2019; Bogutzki v. DePuy Orthopaedics et al, filed April 2, 2019; and McGurk v. DePuy Orthopaedics Inc et al. justia.com
May 1, 2019: J&J Confirms DePuy Pinnacle Settlement But Remains Silent On Terms
Months after widespread media reports that a settlement had been reached to resolve multidistrict litigation (MDL) over DePuy Pinnacle hip implants, Johnson & Johnson finally confirmed the existence of such an agreement in a April-June filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), submitted May 1.
“During the first portion of 2019, Depuy [sic] established a United States settlement to resolve these [federal Pinnacle hip] cases,” Johnson & Johnson Corp.’s Form Q10 states. “As part of the settlement program, adverse verdicts have been settled.”
Despite confirming the settlement’s existence, J&J continued to remain silent on its terms, including the amount of any monetary payouts.
Johnson & Johnson Corp. (Filed 1 May 2019). Form 10-Q. Three Months Ended March 31, 2019. Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure. Legal Proceedings. Products Liability. United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
May 7, 2019: DePuy Pinnacle Settlement Could Total $1 Billion, Bloomberg Reports
As news about the reported settlement agreement continued to slowly trickle out, Bloomberg reported May 7 that, according to its sources, the terms of the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant settlement could end up costing Johnson & Johnson up to $1 billion.
“With the agreement, J&J has now resolved more than 95% of the 6,000 cases in which surgeons extracted the Pinnacle implants because of defects that left patients unable to walk and in pain, according to two people familiar with the settlements,” Bloomberg reported, noting that “still pending are about 4,500 suits by patients with artificial hips that aren’t made totally of metal or haven’t been surgically removed.”
Feeley, J. (7 May 2019). J&J Pays About $1 Billion to Resolve Pinnacle Hip Suits. Bloomberg
June 2019: DePuy Pinnacle Plaintiffs Offered Between $100k and $250k, According To Media Reports
With Bloomberg previously having reported that the total amount of the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant settlement could reach $1 billion, a local ABC affiliate reported in June that individual plaintiffs were being offered between $100,000 and $250,000, depending on the severity of their injuries.
“Juliana provided to us what her attorney is calling a ‘group settlement,’” WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham reported, referring to a plaintiff in the DePuy Pinnacle MDL. “As part of the proposal Juliana provided us, claimants could get $100,000 all the way up to $250,000 depending on what metal implant they had and how many metal part they had to have removed.”
However, with her medical bills having run into the millions of dollars, Juliana told WTVD that she likely would not receive any of that money, with creditors receiving their cut before she ever sees a dime. While the settlement reportedly assures that each plaintiff will receive a direct payment of at least $20,000, Juliana said this offered little compensation for which she has endured and what she will continue to endure for the remainder of her life.
“A billion dollar case put $20,000 in my pocket,” she said. “How can they get away with this?”
Wilson, D. (10 June 2019). ‘Two Little Parts Destroyed My Life’: Durham women says metal hip implant caused lifelong health problems. ABC 11 WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham
DePuy Hip Implants In India: J&J Spars With Government Of India Over DePuy Hip Implant Compensation; Indian Police Re-Open Criminal Anti-Poisoning Investigation
Between April - June 2019 consumer-goods, pharmaceutical, and medical-device mega-conglomerate Johnson & Johnson also continued to face legal ramifications outside the US for injuries caused by hip implants sold by its medical-device-making subsidiary DePuy.
Outside the United States, one of the countries in which J&J has faced its most serious legal challenges has been India, where government regulators and the multinational giant have been sparring over the company’s financial responsibility to tens of thousands of Indian recipients of allegedly defective DePuy hip implants.
Here’s a quick rundown of the developments that took place between J&J and the Indian government during the spring of 2019:
April 8, 2019: J&J Contests Government Order of DePuy Hip Compensation To Delhi High Court
The second portion of 2019 began with J&J taking its dispute with the Indian government to the Delhi High Court, arguing that the central government’s order that J&J pay two hip-implant recipients a total of roughly 13 million Indian rupees (about US$190,000) had no basis in law.
Even as J&J contested the legality of the compensation figure, which had been determined using a formula developed by a panel of experts convened by government regulators, critics derided the amount as being less than recipients of the allegedly defective DePuy hip implants deserve.
Sharm, P. And Thacker, T. (9 April 2019). J&J says it will pay only 25 lakh to each hip implant patient
April 2019: India Revises Medical Device, Pharmaceutical Oversight Rules In Response to DePuy Hip Fiasco
On April 19, the Indian publication The Hindu reported that the government of India was revising its regulatory framework dealing with medical devices and pharmaceuticals in response to the country’s ongoing struggles with the fallout from allegedly defective DePuy hip implants.
Among the moves announced to bolster oversight of medical devices and drugs were the closing of a loophole that previously had allowed imported products to receive less scrutiny than those produced inside the country, as well as increasing by roughly 700 the staff involved in overseeing the sale and use of medical devices in India.
Perappadan, B.S. (19 April 2019). After J&J case, govt. treads carefully. The Hindu
April 2019: Indian, J&J Remain Far Apart on DePuy Pinnacle Hip Terms
As the second portion of 2019 proceeded, media reports continued to paint a dim picture of the prospect for a resolution between Johnson & Johnson and the Indian government over DePuy hip implants.
As the The Times of India reported April 20, the two sides remained far apart on even the most basic terms, such as the scope of patients eligible to receive compensation. While Johnson & Johnson had offered to pay financial compensation only to those patients who had undergone revision surgery to replace their DePuy hip implants, in November 2018 the Indian government had promised that all patients who had received the implants would receive some form of compensation, regardless of whether they had undergone revision surgery or had suffered a serious injury as a result of the implant.
However, more recent statements by government officials had led to growing concern among patients and their advocates that the government would agree to something less than it previously had promised.
“Every patient implanted with the ASR device may not be an ideal case for compensation,” a “top official” told Times of India. “Moreover, in some cases it is difficult to ascertain the cause of disability. So, we will discuss this in the meeting and some changes may be considered on the eligibility criteria.”
Meanwhile, patient advocates urged the government not to renege on its earlier promises by agreeing to a settlement that would preemptively exclude certain patients, including those who had not yet undergone revision surgery or who had since passed away.
“We have impressed upon the committee to ensure that no patient is unjustifiably excluded from compensation,” Malini Aisola of Hip Implant Patients Support Group (HIPS) told the Times of India. “The delay in informing patients has taken a toll on their health. Several patients have not been able to undergo revision surgeries, whereas others have died. The Committee must also consider that the majority of patients are yet to be traced.”
Dey, S. (20 April 2019). Not all who receive J&J hip implants may get compensation. Times of India
April 2019: India Reopens Criminal Investigation Into J&J, DePuy For Potential Anti-Poisoning Violations
As the Indian government and Johnson & Johnson continued to butt heads over a potential settlement for patients who received allegedly faulty hip implants from J&J subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics, the Indian publication Hindu reported on April 29 that local police had reopened a criminal investigation into whether the companies had violated the country’s anti-poisoning laws.
The investigation originally dated back to 2011, when the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration filed a First Information Report (FIR) that cited, among other provisions, Section 328 of the Indian Penal Code, which covers causing harm to another by means of poisoning.
The invocation of the anti-poisoning law is believed to be a response to metallic poisoning allegedly caused by friction within DePuy’s metal-on-metal hip implants. This friction can cause metal ions to be released into surrounding tissue and the blood stream, causing metal poisoning that can have serious and permanent health effects.
Shelar, J. (27 April 2019). J&J faulty implant: cops get data on 1,000 patients. The Hindu
DePuy Hips In the News: John Oliver And A News Anchor Turned DePuy Hip Implant Victim Advocate Bring Attention To An Under-Reported Issue
During the second portion of 2019, the DePuy hip implant issue received attention from some unexpected places, including HBO host John Oliver and a one-time local TV anchor who turned into a DePuy hip implant patient advocate after she says a defective DePuy implant cost her the career of her dreams.
June 2: John Oliver Takes On DePuy Hip Implants, Other Faulty Medical Devices
In a segment that aired June 2, John Oliver, host of HBO’s comedic news series Last Week Tonight, brought some unexpected attention to the issue of defective medical devices and the apparent lack of government oversight.
As an example of how medical-device manufacturers in the United States have used regulatory loopholes to avoid government oversight, Oliver specifically referenced DePuy’s metal-on-metal hip implants. Johnson & Johnson and DePuy were able to avoid submitting these devices to regulatory scrutiny by using an exception for devices that are “substantially equivalent” to devices that already have been cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
According to Oliver, J&J and DePuy had used the “substantial equivalence” loophole, also known as the 501(k) pathway, to gain clearance for six successive devices dating all the way back to 1975.
“The big question is, ‘How can you know if a device is potentially harmful?’” Oliver posed to his audience. “And, unfortunately, good information is actually very difficult to find.”
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. (Original Air Date: 2 June 2019). Home Box Office (HBO)
May 2019: Former Local TV News Anchor Becomes Voice For DePuy Hip Implant Patients
Patients suffering from side effects of DePuy hip implants gained an unlikely advocate during the second portion of 2019 when former local television news anchor Frances Scott began using her status as a public figure to bring media attention to the DePuy hip implant issue.
Scott says that her life was altered forever when in 2011, at the age of just 39, she had both hips replaced with DePuy Pinnacle hip implants with ULTAMET liners. The pain and other complications ended up derailing her two decade career in local news broadcasting, including a job as the main anchor at WTVD in the Raleigh-Durham market.
“I can’t get my career back, my life savings, or my house, but I’m interested now in preventing this from happening to anyone else,” Scott told WDBK Roanoke in a piece published May 22.
Saunders, T. (23 May 2019). Former Roanoke News Anchor Fights To Change Laws Following Tough Medical Journey. WDBJ7.com
Where Things Stand Entering July to September 2019
Despite all of the developments of the second portion of 2019, as we enter the second half of the year, little has been resolved. While news has continued to trickle out about the terms of the confidential settlement agreement in the DePuy Pinnacle MDL, some plaintiffs have expressed skepticism about the compensation figures, leading to doubt as to how many ultimately will take part in the settlement program. The troubles for J&J and DePuy only continued to grow in India, with the companies and the government remaining far apart on settlement terms and local police reopening a criminal investigation into potential violations of anti-poisoning laws.
Whatever the future holds for those who have suffered as a result of DePuy hip implants and the companies that designed, built, and sold them, one thing remains certain: this saga is far from over.
Legal Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to be used as medical information or diagnosis. The sources of the information presented in the article have been researched and are linked within the article. Please seek out medical advice from a licensed medical professional if you are experiencing a problem with any of the drugs or devices mentioned in this article.
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