A new lawsuit indicates Pinnacle hip manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and its DePuy subsidiary aggressively marketed the device as so effective that recipients could partake in “challenging and vigorous athletic activities.” However, many patients who have received the hip implant can hardly walk, require surgery, and live in constant pain due to the device.
James Bishop filed the complaint Friday in the Northern District of Texas. According to his lawsuit, Bishop underwent total hip arthroplasty (THA) on November 6, 2007. His surgeon used numerous DePuy Pinnacle components, including a DePuy Pinnacle acetabular cup, acetabular metal insert liner, and Articul/Eze metal-on-metal femoral head.
After receiving the Pinnacle System, Bishop experienced elevated levels of cobalt and chromium in his blood, a large fluid collection with irregular synovial debris, and significant pain when the implant failed prematurely, causing high-levels of serum ions in his blood and joint effusion, as well as muscle damage and weakness. Consequently, he had to undergo revision surgery with the incumbent additional scar tissue, recovery time, and excruciating pain.
Pinnacle Hip Manufacturers Engaged in Fraudulent Marketing
Bishop asserts that he would have gone with a competing hip implant if the Pinnacle hip manufacturers hadn’t aggressively marketed the hip system's superior efficacy and safety compared to other devices.
The hip’s advertising materials described the Pinnacle as superior to other devices due to “TruGlide technology” that allowed the body to create a thin film of lubrications between surfaces that “enhances performance with smooth, natural motion and less friction.”
Pinnacle hip manufacturers explained “fluid film lubrication” to surgeons as synovial fluid which would act as a lubricant between the articulating components, preventing them from having contact with each other to improve wear resistance.
They also widely distributed literature to the orthopedic community, claiming that the Pinnacle hip system was “uniquely designed to meet the demands of active patients like you – and help reduce pain” and that the Pinnacle “recreates the natural ball-and-socket joint of your hip, increasing stability and range of motion.”
Pinnacle hip manufacturers even went so far as to suggest that the hip system was so effective that the recipients could engage in “challenging and vigorous athletic activities,” such as surfing and hiking. However, this is not the case for thousands of individuals who have experienced catastrophic implant failure due to the defective hip and continue to experience significant pain and impaired mobility as a result of J&J and DePuy grossly overstating the safety of the hip system to enhance profits at the peril of patients.
Pinnacle Hip Manufacturers Face Thousands of Injured Hip Patients in MDL
Bishop’s lawsuit joins the almost 10,000 similar DePuy Pinnacle hip claims pending in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), alleging that the Pinnacle hip manufacturers defectively designed the metal-on-metal hip system, making it exceptionally prone to failure and shedding toxic metallic debris into the body in the process. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has centralized the lawsuits before District Judge Ed Kinkeade in the Northern District of Texas for pretrial proceedings, discovery, and a series of early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries will respond to evidence and testimony that appears throughout the litigation.
Thus far, Pinnacle hip manufacturers are refusing to negotiate settlements in the MDL. Consequently, parties are pushing for the court to remand multitudes of cases back to District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates. However, this action could flood the entire federal court system where there are typically less than 12,000 jury trials each year. This includes both civil and criminal trials.
So far, bellwether juries have overwhelmingly sided with plaintiffs, awarding massive verdicts to injured patients. Consequently, Pinnacle metal hip manufacturers could face significant liability if future juries respond how they have during the bellwether trials so far.
The hip bellwether plaintiffs claim J&J and DePuy valued marketing above research and development. The companies rushed the hip into production without human clinical trials to capture a greater market share. Instead, they used patients as guinea pigs. Furthermore, they lied to surgeons that the hip was 99 percent successful to increase sales. J&J and DePuy also used cheaper, less safe alternatives in manufacturing the hips to keep costs down and profits up. The resulting defects turned patients’ hips into “ticking time bombs.”