So far this week, our firm has filed three new DePuy ASR hip implant cases in the MDL proceedings pending before Judge David A. Katz of the United States District Court in the Northern District of Ohio. These multi-district litigation proceedings related to DePuy’s recalled ASR hip implants are also known as MDL No. 2197. The DePuy ASR cases were consolidated and transferred to Judge Katz in early 2011. As of March 12, 2012, there were more than 3,600 individual lawsuits that have been filed and transferred to Judge Katz’s court for pre-trial discovery and supervision. It is anticipated that hundreds of additional cases will be filed as the two-year anniversary date of DePuy’s August 2010 recall notice approaches.
Judge Katz’s court is located in Toledo, Ohio, but he also holds hearings in West Palm Beach, Florida during the winter months. At a hearing last week in Florida, Judge Katz indicated that he would soon be selecting the first cases to be scheduled for trials in the MDL as a part of the bellwether process. These first trials may involve either plaintiffs from Ohio or perhaps even litigants from Florida. Judge Katz is expected to announce the individual cases selected for the first bellwether trials as well as the trial plan and schedule at the next MDL status conference, which will be held on June 5th in Philadelphia. At that time, Judge Katz will be speaking on a panel at a Mass Tort Litigation Conference. We anticipate that the first DePuy ASR trials should be conducted in the first half of 2013.
The recall of the DePuy ASR hip implants in August of 2010 came as a shock to surgeons and patients who were unaware of the significantly elevated failure rate associated with the defective design of these implants. Data from patient registries in Australia and New Zealand led, in part, to the recall and will be an important piece of the liability evidence presented at trial. These cases are also significant in that each patient was required to undergo painful revision surgeries and protracted physical therapy and rehabilitation only a few years after the initial surgery due to the development of metallosis. Metallosis is a breakdown of the metal surfaces of the implant which leads to an inflammatory response, fluid around the implant, pseudotumor formation, and dangerously elevated serum levels of cobalt and chromium.
These latest filings by the Searcy Denney law firm involve plaintiffs from North Port, Florida; Avon Park, Florida; and Lexington, South Carolina. Each of these patients was implanted with a DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip implant, which was represented as being a superior product to other implants on the market, especially implants with ceramic or plastic/polyethylene liners.