[Update: This post was originally written in November 2012. A year later, in November 2013, a partial settlement was announced. The official website is here. If you had a lawyer as of November 2013, don’t try to fire them just to avoid paying their fee – it won’t work out. If you did not have a lawyer as of November 2013, and you qualify for the settlement, you can file a claim yourself.]
Although the initial DePuy hip implant recall was more than two years ago, the nationwide consolidated lawsuits are still in the “discovery” stage – meaning no trials have been held – and hip failures continue to mount, requiring revision surgery. (Although only the ASR hip implant was recalled, the Pinnacle hip implant has shown to have many of the same complications, because it’s also a metal-on-metal design, and so we also represent clients with Pinnacle implants who have needed a revision surgery. The Pinnacle hip also wasn’t subject to pre-market approval, and so wasn’t fully tested for safety. )
As we’ve seen in mass torts cases, there’s usually a slow rise in potential cases as the word gets out about the nature of the case – and people start realizing their problems weren’t just normal side effects, but were the result of negligence – followed by a big wave of claims as television advertising and the like kicks in, and thereafter a slowing number of claims that eventually becomes a trickle.
Often, the reason for this “wave” of claims is due to the defendant’s actions: the defendant recalls the product in question, so it’s not longer out in the market and so can’t hurt anyone. That, for example, is how Vioxx worked: when Vioxx was recalled, it wasn’t out on the market anymore.
The DePuy hip implants, however, are still in people’s hips and still failing at an alarming rate. Thus, product liability lawyers like us have continued to see a steady stream of potential clients, many of them people who saw the big rush of lawyer advertising, and some of whom even know someone else with a failed implant, but who didn’t think they would need a lawyer themselves – until their implant failed, and they were told to have a revision surgery. That’s when they started looking for a lawyer, considering a lawsuit, and wondering about potential compensation.
These later clients are usually quite savvy. They’ve spent a fair amount of time on the internet researching the subject, but they haven’t been able to answer one of the key questions they’re considering when trying to decide whether or not to bring a lawsuit: how much do DePuy hip implant patients get in a settlement? I can understand their frustration; for all the information on the Internet put out by DePuy lawyers, nobody talks about how much the cases are worth.
There are three answers. The short answer is: we don’t know. The slightly-longer answer is: we can speculate about how much cases could be worth by comparing them to similar medical device claims in the past, but that’s just speculation. But the most important answer is: it would be unethical for us to give you any sort of guarantee, so we try not to cause any confusion about the value of the claims.
Not too long ago, I was talking to a potential medical implant client who asked me how much their claim could be worth. The implant in question was, like the DePuy hips, still in the “discovery” phase of the litigation, and so no trials had been held, and thus we had no idea how judges or juries would react to some of the evidence. I thus told the client the same thing I mentioned in the above paragraph: we don’t know, and I don’t want to speculate or accidentally mislead you.
In response, the client told me that another lawyer had said they were settling similar cases for $2 million to $5 million. I was shocked: it was a bold, outright lie to a potential client to convince them to sign up with that lawyer. Appalled as I was, I worry it may happen with some frequency.
Truth is, any lawyer who tells you that they “know” how much the DePuy hip cases are settling for – or who tells you they’ve already settling cases for significant sums of money – is not being forthright. Here’s the main court page for the ASR lawsuits: it says the first jury trials begins in May 2013. Here’s the main court page for the Pinnacle lawsuits: it says the first of the jury trials will be ready by September 2014. Bloomberg reported back in August 2012 that three ASR hip implant lawsuits settled for roughly $200,000, but it’s premature to take those three cases as a guide, not least because we have few details about those cases, or why the plaintiffs accepted those amounts.
A lot of things could happen in the meantime, some good for plaintiffs, some bad. Here, for example, is a court opinion from the main DePuy federal judge last week, in which plaintiffs won on a procedural issue involving one of the hip implant distributors. That helps plaintiffs, but it’s certainly not the whole story.
As I’ve said many times before, large corporate defendants – like DePuy and Johnson & Johnson – simply don’t offer substantial settlements until they’re right on the courthouse steps. In mass torts cases, they often don’t put any real money on the table until after a couple jury trials have taken place. To put it simply, we’re not going to know how much the hip implant cases are really worth until at least the Spring of 2013.
For more than fifty years, The Beasley Firm has fought for the rights of patients and consumers, obtaining over $2 billion in settlements and jury verdicts for our clients. Our DePuy recall lawyers are currently filing claims on behalf of ASR and Pinnacle hip implant patients who developed complications and were told by their doctors to have a revision or replacement surgery.
For a free and confidential consultation with our lawyers, doctors, and nurses call The Beasley Firm.
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