Biomedical Engineering Expert Witness Testimony Reveals Motivation for Johnson & Johnson to Confirm a Reported $4 Billion Settlement

Johnson & Johnson will likely pay $4 billion dollars to settle thousands of lawsuits over its DePuy Orthaepedics artificial hip implants – known as the A.S.R., or Articular Surface Replacement. In August 2010, Johnson & Johnson recalled 93,000 defective implants used in total hip arthroplasty surgeries , including 37,000 in the U.S., after evidence emerged that the device caused significant health complications. The all metal implant, designed to “last 20 years and offer greater range of motion” caused great pain and suffering, metal debris, and required thousands of patients to undergo a correctional replacement surgery. According to Bloomberg, lawyers for the plaintiffs allege that “debris from the metal ball sliding against the metal cup causes tissue death around the joint and may increase the amount of metal ions in the bloodstream to harmful levels.”

Related: DePuy Hip Expert Witness Litigation Guide reports that approximately 12,000 DePuy A.S.R. lawsuits are pending in state and federal courts throughout the country based on the product’s defective design. Although Johnson & Johnson staunchly disputes that they acted appropriately, claiming they recalled the devise when they learned of its flaws and risks, The New York Times reports that “internal company documents disclosed during the trial of a patient lawsuit this year showed that DePuy officials were long aware that the hip had a flawed design and was failing prematurely at a high rate.” DePuy had apparently received reports of their products failures and shortcomings. Yet, when U.K. doctor Antoni Nargol and his colleague Dr. David Langton approached executives following complaints from A.S.R. patients complaining of groin pain, they were told that errors in surgical techniques, and not the product, was at fault. Johnson & Johnson did not stop selling the product or even issue a warning.

Related: Hip Expert Witness Litigation Guide

A biomedical engineering expert witness testified in the first trial over the defective hip implant in February 2013 on behalf of plaintiff Loren Kransky. Dennis Bobyn, a McGill University professor, testified that the DePuy device “had multiple design defects that caused them to fail at a much greater rate than other devices,” including its geometric shape, the fact that the device featured a one-piece cup rather than two pieces, and the metal cup’s thin wall structure. Another biomedical engineering expert witness, George Samaras, testified that Johnson & Johnson knew of its products failures because the product failed to meet their internal safety standards. According to Bloomberg, Samaras “cited an internal document show[ed] the ASR produced 16 times more chromium and cobalt debris in the body than another DePuy product. While DePuy’s review standards said the ASR should have failed, the company said it passed.”

Related: Engineering Expert Witness Comments on Load-Bearing Capacity of Chair

Expert witness testimony supplemented charged arguments made by Kransky’s attorneys. According to Business Week, they stipulated that “DePuy failed to test the device adequately before selling it in the U.S., buried surgeon complaints of mounting failures, and studied a redesign of the ASR before scrapping that effort in 2008.” A jury awarded Kransky $8.3 million for damages associated with the defective hip.

Related: Allegedly Defective Hip Implant Causes Metallosis in Patient

If Johnson & Johnson confirms the reported $4 billion settlement, it will mark the company’s second billion dollar settlement this month. The company paid “$2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil probes into the marketing of Risperdal and other medicines.” The $4 billion settlement will be a historic settlement, one of the largest payouts for product liability claims involving a medical device.

Inna Kraner is the Managing Editor of The Expert Institute, an innovative company that connects plaintiff and defense attorneys with the world's preeminent experts. The Expert Institute utilizes the latest technologies and a proprietary search platform to streamline operations and deliver time-saving and targeted referrals to highly qualified expert witnesses.
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