Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that while Gillian O’Sullivan’s injuries are clearly not catastrophic, they are undoubtedly severe and caused major disruption to her life. The injury resulted in a serious continuing pain and ongoing permanent medical attention, the judge noted.
The judge remarked that Ms O’Sullivan’s injuries were far more severe than any other person whose case has opened in his court in relation to DePuy hip replacement implants.
The case ran for 10 days in the High Court and is the first to go through to the end as others have settled before the High Court. As a result, this is the first award made in a case over DePuy hip implants.
Ms O’Sullivan, aged 52, of Tramore, Co Waterford, sued DePuy International Ltd claiming damages for negligence, breach of duty and liability for a defective product. The claims were denied.
However, in October this year, DePuy said it did not require Ms O’Sullivan to establish the DePuy product supplied to her was defective and the case went ahead as an assessment of damages only without any admission of liability.
Ms O’Sullivan had a left hip replacement in October 2005 with a right hip replacement in May 2006. She had to have further revision surgery after that.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that before her first left hip replacement operation, Ms O’Sullivan was told by a consultant that it was a “once in a lifetime job” and afterwards she would have hips like rugby player Brian O’Driscoll.
Ms O’Sullivan said she gradually got worse; stating in 2007 she started to get a grinding sensation continuously in both legs. When she complained in late 2007 about her hips, she was told the “god of orthopaedics” had done the surgery.
Ms O’Sullivan had two further operations as a revision of the earlier hip replacement operations. She complained that once she woke up from the left hip revision operation she had a severe pain in her knee but there were better results with the right hip revision operation.
In his judgment, Mr Justice Cross said Ms O’Sullivan now has significant problems and disabilities; is in significant pain; and has significant limitations of movement and requires crutches.
He found that 90% of her past, present, and future problems are referable to her hips and she will require a total of three extra unnecessary hip replacements throughout her life.
Awarding a total of €704,000, Mr Justice Cross allowed for general damages as well as past and future care.