Teaneck, N.J., March 02, 2012 – New Jersey defective medical device attorney Samuel L. Davis, founding partner of the Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., law firm of Teaneck, has filed a lawsuit against DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., the manufacturer of metal-on-metal hip replacement implants.
The lawsuit alleges that the devices cause “irreparable harm from undiagnosed metal disease.” DePuy should pay for patients’ ongoing medical monitoring, which involves yearly orthopedic examinations, MRIs and blood and urine tests, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit, filed Feb. 28, is Rodham and Gray v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. (Case No. BER-L-1691-12; Bergen County Superior Court).
“The industry has known about the harmful effects of cobalt for at least 25 years and left the American people in the dark about the downside of exposure to toxic levels of cobalt shed from these devices,” Davis said in an interview.
Davis is a New Jersey personal injury and products liability attorney who has litigated knee- and hip-replacement cases since 1989.
An investigative report published in BMJ, formerly known as British Medical Journal, says thousands of hip implants made by DePuy Orthopaedics have leaked high levels of toxic cobalt and chromium ions.
The toxic metals have destroyed patients’ muscle and bone, and will potentially leave some patients with long-term disability, the study says.
“Metal-on-metal hip prostheses like the DePuy ASR XL can and do create three to five-fold increases in blood levels of the heavy metals chromium and cobalt,” the court filing states.
“Toxicity from these metals causes metallosis, a disease that destroys the tissues surrounding the artificial joint. Left unresolved, metallosis creates irreparable harm to the patient from the progressive destruction of the joint tissues.”
According to the court document, other health issues related to failure of the ASR XL hip implant includes “immediate irreparable harm from undiagnosed metal disease and the effect it has on the joint, even after revision and on other targeted organs, such as the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys.”
In the Rodham complaint, Davis has asked that a class be certified and that DePuy be ordered to establish a fund to pay the costs of medical monitoring over the lifetime of all ASR XL Acetabular System hip implant patients. Those costs include annual blood and urine tests and medical imaging such as ultrasound and MRI examinations.
“Someone with a well-placed and functioning hip replacement needs to have it removed and replaced if cobalt levels are in the toxic range,” Davis said. “Revision surgery is more complex, riskier and more likely to lead to a permanent disability.”
In addition to risk of infection and blood clots in a second implant surgery, revisions will not last as long as the 20 to 30 years the original hip implants were expected to last, Davis said.
The BMJ report cites longstanding “evidence of risk from metal-on-metal hips, the manufacturers’ inadequate response, and how regulatory bodies failed to give doctors and patients the information they need to make informed decisions.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned in 2011 about metal ions that shed minute particles of the metal implant that migrate into the bloodstream and damage bone or tissue surrounding the implant and joint.
BMJ quotes an internal DePuy memo from July 2005 that says, “In addition to inducing potential changes in immune function, there has been concern for some time that wear debris may be carcinogenic. … One study suggested threefold risk of lymphoma and leukemia 10 years after joint replacement.”
BMJ says it’s likely there are more than 500,000 “at risk large diameter ” metal-on-metal hips implanted in American patients since 2003 which require monitoring.
“We haven’t even begun to see all of the problems that victims of the DePuy hip replacement are likely to face in the years ahead,” Davis said.
Davis said many patients may not even realize they have a metal hip implant. He said artificial hip recipients should contact their doctors immediately to determine whether they have metal-on-metal hips. Those who do should obtain a copy of the operative report from the original implant procedure. It will document exactly what they received, including the lot and batch numbers.
Patients’ doctors should order blood and urine tests and a special MRI, called MARS (metal artifact reducing), to check for metallosis damage, including the formation of pseudotumors around the hip, Davis added.
“So-called ‘Silent Metal Disease,’ is found in upwards of 30% of patients with no symptoms. Cobalt and chromium poisoning can only be diagnosed promptly through a program of universal and comprehensive monitoring of the entire population of ASR XL patients,” according to the complaint.
Hip implant patients should contact an attorney experienced in medical products liability cases to learn about their legal right to compensation for damage from the device, Davis said. They should contact an attorney quickly, Davis said, because the statute of limitations is relatively short and time may already be running out.
About Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C.
The New Jersey personal injury attorneys and dedicated staff of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., provide compassionate and skilled legal help to those injured by the negligence of others. The firm represents people across the United States who have been harmed or placed at increased risk of harm by dangerous medical devices such as defective hip implants.
Since 1981, the firm has secured more than $350 million in verdicts and settlements for clients throughout North Jersey and New York, including the communities of Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, Toms River, Trenton, Clifton, Camden, Brick Township, Woodbridge Township, Bergen Co., Middlesex Co., Somerset Co., Warren Co., Sussex Co., Monmouth Co., Mercer Co., Ocean Co., Hudson Co., Passaic Co., Essex Co., Union Co., Morris Co., Teaneck, Fort Lee, Paramus, Hackensack, Hoboken, Secaucus, Englewood, Mahwah, Bergenfield, Union City, North Bergen, Ridgewood, Bayonne, Ridgefield, Belleville, Alpine, New Milford and Atlantic City.
The firm’s practice areas include personal injury, auto accidents, drunk driving accidents, motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, premises liability, product liability, slip and fall, truck accidents and workers’ compensation.
Samuel Davis is the founder and chair of The American Association of Justice’s Orthopedic Implant Litigation Group. Since 1988 he has participated as science, co-chair of Othon Orthopedic in device failure cases in which thousands of Americans received recoveries for their device failure injuries.
For more information about Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., call (800) LAW-2000 or use the firm’s online contact form.