Although hip replacements have been hailed as a groundbreaking remedy for joint problems, this advance has not been without complications. There have been a variety of harmful side effects that have been associated with this treatment. All of the problems that have been encountered relate to metal design of the hip replacements. The effects of the hip replacements have caused patients to incur further medical bills and additional surgeries. These problems have plagued hip replacements that have been made by both of the main manufacturers of these products. There are legal remedies available for those who continue to suffer from the effects of these hip replacements as there are a number of open lawsuits against the manufacturers of these products.
Metal on metal hip replacement lawsuits
A hip replacement involves the removal of the natural damaged joint and replacing it with a prosthetic device. There are several different types of hip replacements, including partial and total hip replacements. The actual prosthetic hip is made out of either metal or a combination of metal and plastic. The earliest prosthetic hips were made out of strictly metal. When a replacement hip is said to be metal-on-metal, it means that the ball and the socket are made out of titanium or steel.
Two of the main makers of hip replacements are Stryker and Depuy. The two companies are competitors in the space who have filed patent infringement suits against each other. Depuy is a subsidiary of medical and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. Stryker is also a major medical devices company in its own right.
The rate of patients that have received hip replacements has grown since the treatment first became available. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of hip replacements performed in the United States more than doubled in the period from 2000 to 2010. CDC’s statistics show that the number of hip replacements went from approximately 138,000 to 342,000 in that time period. In the period since, the number of hip replacements continues to grow.
The growing rate of hip replacements, combined with the insertion into the body of a device that contains metal has caused a variety of complications for many of the patients who have received these implants. The highest rates of failure are found in the hip replacements that are metal-on-metal. The failures have been so pronounced that these types of implants are no longer used for full hip replacements, but are not only used in hip resurfacing.
When a patient has received a metal-on-metal hip replacement, it is the introduction of metal into the body which causes many adverse side effects. Metal-on-metal hip replacements have failed at a much higher rate than other types of prosthetic hips. The metal particles have had two primary effects on recipients. The first is that the metal particles get dissolved into the bloodstream and travel to and impact other parts of the body. The second major effect is that the metal inhibits the body’s ability to grow bone around the area that has received the implant. This is a necessary step for the body to heal and fully integrate the hip replacement.
In practical terms, these two conditions mean that patients experience an unfortunate variety of side effects. At a minimum, many hip replacement patients have experienced pain that occurs many years after the procedure as the artificial joint fails. In addition, many patients have reported suffering infections from the metal. The most severe of the complications stem from the toxicity of the metal. Especially when a hip replacement contains cobalt, this can lead to poisoning in the blood. This has caused chromosomal changes that could lead to heart failure, dementia, cancer and many other sever life-threatening issues. The side effects of this product have been so severe that, in 2010, DePuy was forced to issue a recall of its ASR XL Acetabular metal-on-metal hip replacement system. In addition, Stryker’s LFIT V40 Femoral Head was recalled in 2016, affecting products that were manufactured as early as 2006.
As a result of the many devastating effects that recipients have suffered, there are a large number of lawsuits that have been filed against the manufacturers of these products that have alleged a host of different areas where the companies should be held to be legally liable. The lawsuits began to be filed in 2010, in the wake of the first recall issued by DePuy. Within a year after the recall, there were already 700 lawsuits filed in federal court against DePuy. The manufacturer prevailed in many of the early cases relating to the metal-on-metal implant. However, the tide has recently shifted in favor of the plaintiffs in this particular litigation. Recently, plaintiffs have been racking up a string of victories at trial.
One of the more momentous cases in this class of litigation was filed in federal court in Texas. Six plaintiffs filed suit against DePuy for the complications and injuries that they sustained from their hip replacements. The plaintiffs sued under the theory that the metal-on-metal design of the artificial joint was defective. The defective design is what caused their injuries, and the lawsuit proceeded under a product liability theory. Specifically, the metal, which was designed to be stronger, instead caused the plaintiffs to get metalosis. The plaintiffs prevailed at trial when the case went to the jury. In what was a resounding victory, the six plaintiffs were awarded a total of $247 million by the jury.
Stryker has also had to defend numerous lawsuits that have been brought against it for the defective design of its product. There have been thousands of lawsuits that have been filed. Like the suits against DePuy, Stryker was alleged to have sold a product with a defective design that caused complications for those who had the hip replacement implanted. Stryker attempted to defend the lawsuit, but unsuccessfully tried to persuade a federal court in Rhode Island to dismiss the case. After the court denied the motion to dismiss, Stryker entered settlement negotiations with the plaintiffs. In 2014, Stryker settled the class action for approximately $1.4 billion. This established a fund that has given plaintiffs as much as $600,000 in compensation for the injuries that they suffered.
If you have received a metal-on-metal hip replacement that was made by either Stryker or DePuy, you may be entitled to compensation for any side effects that you have experienced. If you have not already done so, you should immediately contact an attorney and learn your legal rights and whether you may be entitled to compensation. Each case has different facts so there is no guarantee that you will receive compensation.