Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Pennsylvania woman sues device makers over faulty hip implant

Medical devices work to replace or treat a part or function of an ill, disabled or injured patient's body. Allegheny County residents also use medical devices when they are healthy, such as contraceptive products for reproductive control.

Medical devices are sometimes flawed, however. The problem can be a singular occurrence due to a bad batch or pervasive due to a poor overall design, repeated manufacturing mistakes or a marketing error. Marketing includes instructions about the product's safe use and warnings about possible dangers.

A Central Pennsylvania woman received an ASR Acetabular hip implant in 2007, a device that had been advertised as a "high performance," safe product. The patient had no initial problems with hip replacement, which was made by Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopedics.

The patient's recently-filed negligence lawsuit stated that device failure symptoms appeared nearly six years after the operation. DePuy sent the woman a letter about a limited product recall before any health issues developed. An MRI confirmed there were no problems at the time.

The plaintiff's Product Liability Attorney said the patient started to feel leg pain last winter. Blood tests uncovered elevated levels of cobalt and chromium. Within three months, the metals had reached a poisonous level. Corrosion from the hip implant caused metallic debris to show up in the patient's system. The device was replaced in a revision surgery.

The strict liability lawsuit requests damages for breach of warranties and negligence. The woman claims the defective device led to unnecessary medical costs, lost wages, disfigurement and emotional suffering. The complaint alleged that the defendants inadequately tested the implant, delayed a recall and continued to sell the devices despite known, high implant failure rates.

Multiple defendants are common in medical device liability cases because it is difficult to isolate where a defect originates in the product's "chain of distribution." All parties involved in a defective product's manufacturing and marketing process, from the factory to the consumer, may be liable.

Source:, "DePuy, J&J named in defective artificial hip products liability complaint" Jon Campisi, Nov. 20, 2013

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