It has been awhile since we’ve discussed the latest developments in the DePuy hip recall case. Many might remember that several years ago–in 2010–there was a large recall of DePuy ASR hip implant systems. At the time, over 90,000 such implants were on the market, with anywhere from 30-40% of them in the United States. DePuy Orthopaedics is an arm of the large business conglomerate Johnson & Johnson.
Over the past few years thousands of patients who received these products came forward sharing stories of complications which may have been caused by the faulty metal-on-metal design of the ball and socket device.
It was not long before those patients began using the civil justice system to demand accountability and redress. We reported a few months ago on the first resolution in trial where a jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff against Johnson & Johnson, awarding the injured party several million dollars for the harm caused by the defendant’s negligence.
So what are the latest developments in these cases?
Potential Settlement & Trial
Recently, as reported by several outlets, including Market Watch, Johnson & Johnson was in deep discussions to reach a massive settlement to resolve all of the more than 11,000 cases pending. More specifically, those familiar with the discussions report that the company was considered a $3 billion settlement to handle the myriad of product liability cases they face as a result of the hip recall. That $3 billion figure was reached with a rough estimate of over $300,000 per case. If this is true, it would dwarf the next largest similar settlement from several years ago regarding defective hip and knee implants.
Those estimates are only speculative, though representatives from DePuy admitted that the money the company earmarked for the situation increased in the last few months. Thus far, the company claims that it has spent nearly $1 billion on medical expenses related to the recall.
Even if a settlement figure of this size is reached, it will likely come with some caveats. For one thing, a ‘grid” system make be crafted, with the details about a claimant’s case plugged into the grid and a final settlement amount decided upon based on the specifics. For example, the age of the plaintiff, extent of injuries, medical care needed, and similar details may affect the final amount of compensation.
Also, it is important to remember that individual plaintiffs will not be required to abide by the terms of any settlement if they do not deem it fair. Multidistrict litigation is used as an efficiency tool, but it does not take away individual patient’s right to have the matter decided by a jury.
However, not all observers believe a settlement is imminent. For example, some argue that the settlement has yet to materialize and another federal trial will likely take place soon. Observers argue that the company may wish to take the case to trial and “win” in an effort to tamper the prospects of the thousands of remaining cases in order offer a low final settlement.
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