Lawsuits pile up over DePuy hip implant

June 30, 2010 by MassDevice staff

Three California residents are suing DePuy Orthopaedics over allegedly faulty hip implants, and more suits are likely in the works.

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Lawsuits over an allegedly faulty hip implant are piling up for DePuy Orthopaedics, with three more patients suing the Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary over its ASR acetabular cup.

Cynthia Magowan, Harold Schoening and Katherin Balestra-Walter each received the device, according to a lawsuit filed in the California Superior Court for San Francisco, and each had to have revision surgery after the cup partially detached from their hip sockets.

The trio accuse DePuy of liability for manufacturing a defective product, failing to warn patients and doctors of problems with the implant and negligence in designing, manufacturing and selling the product.

It's the latest of what's likely to become an avalanche of liability lawsuits over the implant, after a Florida woman, Kathleen Margenau, sued on similar grounds earlier this month. Spencer Pahlke, a lawyer for the firm representing Magowan, Schoening and Balestra-Walter, told MassDevice that his firm, Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, has several more suits in the works.

DePuy, which introduced the ASR in the U.S. in 2005 after winning 510(k) clearance from the Food & Drug Administration, allegedly knew of design problems with the cup but failed to adequately warn physicians, according to the lawsuits.

"During this time, defendant DePuy was aware of a high rate of failures of its ASR cups, but did not provide this information to [Margenau's surgeon]," according to Margenau's lawsuit. "As a result of defendant DePuy failing to provide this crucial information to plaintiff's orthopedic surgeon, [he] had little reason to suspect that the source of plaintiff's ongoing pain and weakness was the result of the failure of the ASR cup."

Magowan, Schoening and Balestra-Walter make similar claims in their lawsuit, according to court documents.

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