J&J unit to pay $2.5 billion in U.S. hip implant settlement

Tue Nov 19, 2013 7:07pm EST
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By Jessica Dye

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A unit of Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay an estimated $2.5 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits from individuals allegedly injured by the company's artificial hip implants, the company announced Tuesday.

The settlement, announced during a hearing in federal court in Ohio on Tuesday, would compensate an estimated 8,000 patients who underwent surgery to replace their hip implants, according to a statement from Johnson & Johnson unit Depuy Orthopaedics Inc and lawyers for the plaintiffs.

The company was defending more than 12,000 lawsuits in U.S. state and federal court over injuries allegedly caused by its metal-on-metal ASR hip-replacement systems, according to a regulatory filing.

Depuy recalled the ASR hip system in 2010, after data suggested that it failed at a higher-than-expected rate. At the time, the company had sold about 93,000 systems worldwide.

Metal hip implant systems like Depuy's ASR hips were designed to be more durable, replacing a traditional metal-on-plastic ball-and-socket design. Instead, some patients who received the ASR hips reported experiencing pain, swelling, joint dislocation and sometimes damage to the central nervous system, thyroid and heart.

The settlement would compensate plaintiffs who have undergone surgery to replace their hips as of August 31, 2013, the company said Tuesday. The company estimated that 8,000 plaintiffs would be eligible.

There is no cap on the amount of individual claims, according to Peter Flowers, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs. Eligible U.S. plaintiffs can seek compensation for costs associated with their revision surgery, as well as payments of qualified liens by healthcare providers associated with the surgery, Flowers said.

Plaintiffs who experienced more serious complications can apply to receive additional funds, Flowers said.   Continued...