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Shezad Malik MD JD
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Texas DePuy Pinnacle Metal Hip Trial Update

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The first out of 6,500 federal DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement lawsuits went to trial this week. Injured plaintiffs allege that they suffered premature metal hip implant failure and metal blood poisoning from the defective DePuy Pinnacle hip devices.

DePuy ASR Metallosis Injury AttorneyWhat is the Problem with DePuy Pinnacle Hip?

The DePuy Pinnacle hip implant is made from an alloy of Cobalt and Chromium. The metal-on-metal components leads to the release of metal debris by the grinding action of the ball upon the cup during normally activity. The release of metal, particularly Cobalt and Chromium, is especially inflammatory to the local tissue and causes early failure of the hip replacement and metal blood poisoning.

First Bellwether Texas Trial

The first DePuy Pinnacle trial began on Tuesday, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, where the federal litigation is centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

A complaint filed by Kathleen Herlihy-Paoli was selected as one in a series of “bellwether” cases scheduled in the DePuy Pinnacle MDL.

The 58 year old from Montana, received a DePuy Pinnacle metal hip in 2009, but had to have it removed in 2011, because of pain and after testing showed she had extremely high blood levels of cobalt and chromium. Her cobalt blood levels were 85 times above normal range.

Trial Day 1

During the first day of trial, plaintiff attorneys said that Johnson & Johnson and the DePuy Orthopaedics subsidiary aggressively overmarketed the hip replacements, lied about complication rates associated with metal-on-metal hips and failed to warn people that they were being used as “guinea pigs.”

Johnson & Johnson’s plan to convince doctors the metal-on-metal version of its Pinnacle hip implants were safe amounted to “marketing run amok.”

According to Mark Lanier, one of the lawyers for Herlihy-Paoli, J&J’s DePuy unit ignored signs the Pinnacle hips suffered from design flaws and assured doctors the metal devices worked “99.9 percent of the time.”

DePuy responded that Herlihy-Paoli’s problems were the result of the Pinnacle’s poor positioning when it was implanted.

Trial Day 2

According to Lanier, Johnson & Johnson knew as early as 2001 the metal-on-metal version of its Pinnacle artificial hips might produce metal debris that could cause metal poisoning.

Orthopedic Doctors Complaints

A doctor who consulted with J&J’s DePuy unit on the Pinnacle hip made the company aware in February 2001 that the device would require extensive testing of implant patients to see whether they had metal debris in their bloodstreams, Mark Lanier, said in his questioning of ex-DePuy President Andrew Ekdahl.

In an internal memo, DePuy officials said Dr. Thomas Schmalzried warned the potential release of metal ions was a “major issue for metal-on-metal hips,” according to Lanier.

Ekdahl, now chairman of J&J’s DePuy Synthes unit’s global orthopedics business, denied that officials considered cutting marketing efforts over Schmalzried’s concerns.

More Bellwether Trials Set

DePuy Pinnacle bellwether trials are scheduled in the coming months, with other trials set to begin on November 3, 2014 and January 12, 2015. The bellwether trial process is designed to initiate a global hip replacement settlements that may prevent thousands of other cases to be set for individual trials nationwide.

DePuy ASR Hip Settlements

Johnson & Johnson and DePuy agreed to pay at least $2.4 billion to settle similar claims involving the ASR hip implant, which was approved as a “substantial equivalent” to the Pinnacle metal-on-metal design.

A DePuy ASR recall was issued in August 2010, after the manufacturer acknowledged that the implant carried a higher-than-expected rate of failures. More than 12,000 lawsuits over DePuy ASR hips were filed nationwide before the settlement.

Biomet, Stryker, Smith and Nephew, Zimmer Durom Cup, Wright Conserve

Additional MDLs have been established in the federal court system for Biomet M2A Magnum metal hip Stryker Rejuvenate, Smith and Nephew, Zimmer Durom Cup and Wright Medical Conserve Cup metal hip lawsuits. All of these hip manufacturers are facing similar allegations of early hip implant failure and metallosis from their flawed metal on metal design.

In February 2014, Biomet announced a global settlement over the lawsuits the company was facing over similar allegations.

6 Comments

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  1. Marcus Saturday says:
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    I’ve had both my hips replaced. The left was done w/ the procedure that has been working for 65+ years, haven’t had one problem with the left hip. The right was done with the so called “next best thing” metal on metal Depuy Pinnacle device. The metal on metal hip (right) dislocated within the first 2 months post surgery – I’ve had nothing but problems and pain since it happened. I also don’t fall in the smoker, over weight, over 45 years old categories, either….J & J have seriously altered many of people’s lives, they need to be held accountable for their arrogance and medical irresponsibilities.

    Thank you for the updates Dr. Malik!

    -MS

  2. James says:
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    I’m a veteran of the Marine Corps I say this only because of the unnatural beating’s that or bodies take, after 5 lumbar back surgeries an fusions bilateral THA, I worked until I rec the Depuy Pinnacle which I have had 2 revision surgery’s since receiving in 2009, The VA-VBA say’s it’s not service connected, & being 55 years old now I struggle to walk with out assistance now I don’t care how much one could be paid it’s not enough for all those bastards have taken from me & my grand kid’s all over a Dollar. Maybe being held accountable like Enron, get some jail time they would think the next time some company chose the Dollar over the heath of the recipients. The surgeries being shot the only thing on me I can’t get over is the Pinnacle THA, other wise I would be fine. Thanks Depuy I survived the war, an now you’re killing me.

  3. Deborah Pate says:
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    I have had one replacement, but need another now. My nightmare began with a collapsed right hip, a vales clarinet necrosis in both hips. Had hip surgery on both hips, same time. Did a full hip replacement on right hip and a decompression on left hip. Since, I’ve been through hell. I’ve had replacement on right hip, doctors were unaware of any recalls, they said. I read my operating report. Said he got a handful of grey matter and metal shavings and had to clean it up so much, l probably was going to be left with a pretty good limp. They couldn’t keep my fever down in hospital. Sent me to infectious disease dr. Found severe metal poising.I ran extremely high fever for 3 Mos. Due to the cobalt and chromium in my bloodstream. My kidneys and bladder are damaged now also. I have no control over my bladder anymore. Before this, I was a 44 yr old woman with a super career, active in sports, horse back riding, volleyball, long walks, loving life. Not so much anymore. Dupey, Johnson and Johnson, you have literally ruined my life. And that little bit your paying then attorneys get almost half! Sick

  4. Anonymous says:
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    I had a Pinnacle prosthesis placed in my left hip in 2006, and I’ve been following news articles on metal-on-metal (MOM) implants ever since. In doing so, I found an online article that contained a link to a document issued by Johnson and Johnson, listing J&J payments, name by name, to the top orthopedic surgeons in the country for using the now-recalled ASR MOM devices. Some top surgeons individually received as much as $100,000 in 2009, which increased five times in 2010, just before the device was recalled. So, there was a strong and increasing financial incentive for surgeons to turn a blind eye to what was happening with. Greed at its worst, to say the least.

  5. Gabriel botello says:
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    I was given one of these when I was 18 told be it would prevent multiple surgeries because I was so young and was for people who still wanted to maintain an active lifestyle! Well after three years I started to grow a tumor on the side of my leg that leaked puss and blood and caused sever pain and tissue damage! Was told it was because the metal debris was in my body and trying to enter the bloodstream! Was told I needed only the metal liner replaced and would be back to work in no time!!! 3 years later I still can’t walk and am scheduled for my third hip replacement surgery in December!! My life and the lives of others (mostly elderly) have been ruined! Mine has been ruined and my four young boys have no idea what it’s like to have a dad who can do stuff w them play sports w them even walk w them!!! Ty johnson&johnson you really did a number on thousands of people!! I only pray that someday somebody will be held accountable for this travesty!!!!

  6. Sheila Lalonde says:
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    Have had a depuy pinnacle hip replacement that had the metal on polyethylene. This August, I had to have a revision for mal-location. Had to have lumbar fusion surgery in Jan also of this year. I have been living with pain in hip and back for years. I am unable to find anyone to represent me. Can you possibly help me. Thank you, Sheila Lalonde