Johnson & Johnson settles US hip replacement cases

A lawyer representing Irish people affected by flawed hip implants has welcomed the settlement of the first compensation cases taken in the US.

Earlier this month Johnson & Johnson, agreed to pay $600,000 (€479,692) in settlement of three cases due to go to court in Nevada in December.

The US multinational’s DePuy unit recalled 93,000 ASR hips worldwide in 2010, saying that 12% of the devices failed within five years.

At least 3,500 patients in Ireland received the faulty devices and the first of a series of compensation cases could be heard in the High Court next year.

Co Kildare-based solicitor Liam Moloney, who represents just under 100 Irish people affected by the health scandal, said that while the US settlements did not set a precedent in Ireland, it was an indication that Johnson & Johnson was not going to fight liability.

The three people whose cases were settled in the US had claimed they experienced pain and other side effects. Each of them received $200,000 in settlement of their action.

Business experts in the US reported that Johnson & Johnson was able to negotiate settlements at the low end of what they should have expected to pay, with future settlements ranging between $200,000 to $500,000.

Many patients have claimed that the metal-on-metal hip replacement systems caused significant pain, and shed dangerous amounts of chromium and cobalt into their bloodstream, which caused serious health problems.

Johnson & Johnson disclosed in Jan 2010 that it had set aside $800m to cover legal issues associated with the DePuy ASR hip implant.

Mr Moloney said that all of his cases were lodged in the High Court. In some of the cases, there were elements of medical negligence as well as product liability.

Mr Moloney said that, in some cases, patients had received two DePuy implants before the recall was announced.

Mr Moloney said Johnson & Johnson had shown in the manner in which it was dealing with lawsuits in the US that it wanted to settle the cases as quickly as possible.

Mr Moloney said there was no indication by Johnson & Johnson that it was going to settle Irish cases being taken.

However, there had been no admission of liability.

“If they are starting to settle the cases in America, we would be hopeful that a similar attitude would be adopted by them in due course in Ireland,” he said.


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