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DePuy Pinnacle Bellwether Trial Scheduled for September 2014

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Lawsuits with claims concerning the recalled DePuy ASR hip device now number in the thousands, with two trials having already taken place in California and Illinois. There is another DePuy hip implant that allegedly caused similar problems, however, and that is the DePuy Pinnacle. The metal-on-metal option has been linked with complications like pain, difficulty walking, metal corrosion, tissue damage, premature loosening, and early implant failure.

In May 2011, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all federal lawsuits involving the DePuy Pinnacle in the Northern District of Texas. Now, the first bellwether trial has been scheduled to begin on September 1, 2014.

Thousands of Pinnacle Lawsuits Pending

There are currently about 4,000 DePuy Pinnacle lawsuits pending in courts around the country, and though the company never recalled the device, they have announced that they will no longer be making metal-on-metal hip replacement components.

Like the ASR, the Pinnacle hip device has an all-metal option that places a metal cup inside a metal liner in the hip socket. Over time, regular wear and tear of these two components can potentially shed metallic debris into the surrounding tissues of the hip joint. These tiny metallic shards may then go on to cause inflammation, swelling, tissue damage and death, bone loss, and more, resulting in a need to replace the device through revision surgery.

Bellwether Trial Scheduled at Status Conference

Plaintiffs who have filed a Pinnacle lawsuit typically claim the company failed to warn about the risks associated with the product, and that Depuy also failed to conduct appropriate safety studies to make sure it was safe before widely distributing it on the market.

The Pinnacle MDL currently has about 1,800 lawsuits pending. The defendants had originally filed a motion to schedule the first bellwether trial in December 2013, but District Judge James E. Kinkeade denied that request.

On August 14, 2012, the judge released case management order No. 8 stating the first bellwether case must be ready for trial by September 1, 2014.

Complaints Increased on Pinnacle Device

The FDA approved the Pinnacle hip device in 2002. By 2006, they had received 50 complaints concerning the device, and by the end of 2008, the FDA received over 430 reports, and that number has continued to climb.

The complications associated with the Pinnacle metal liner paralleled those seen in the all-metal ASR, but one study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery also noted the polyethylene liners were prone to splitting, which could increase the risk of device failure and revision surgery.

Plaintiffs have drawn comparisons between the ASR and Pinnacle all-metal option, noting they both have the potential to shed harmful metal shards into the body, and both have a risk of failing prematurely. In January 2013, the FDA issued a safety communication regarding metal-on-metal hips, noting they have “unique risks [in] addition to the general risks of all hip implants.”