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Class Action Lawsuit Contends Pinnacle Hip Implant is Unreasonably Dangerous

supreme courtA resident of Contra Costa County, California has filed a class action Depuy hip lawsuit against DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, John Muir Health, and the doctor who performed his Pinnacle hip implant surgery. John Muldoon claims that a class action lawsuit is called for because the class is believed to contain more than 100 individuals who are so geographically diverse that their joinder is impractical.

He further alleges that the findings of the existence, cause, and extent of damages will be common to the class, given that they are “allegedly caused by the same series of acts and omissions” by DePuy and the other defendants. Specifically, the suit involves allegations that the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant, a ceramic-on-metal device, is “unreasonably dangerous” and directly led to the plaintiff’s injuries. This complaint is pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division.

Pinnacle hip lawsuit alleges heavy metal toxicity

According to the DePuy hip replacement lawsuit, the plaintiff underwent computer-navigated total left hip arthroplasty on January 3, 2007. The total hip replacement surgery was performed to correct osteoarthritis of the left hip. The plaintiff underwent the procedure at John Muir Medical Center, at which time he received a prosthetic device manufactured by DePuy that contained a ceramic-on-metal bearing surface.

At some point after the orthopedic surgery, friction and wear and tear damage between the cobalt-chromium metal liner and the ceramic head allegedly released significant amounts of toxic metal ions. The plaintiff developed ongoing pain and discomfort of the joint, which radiated throughout the leg and to the foot. Although he tried physical therapy, cortisone injections, and prescription pain relievers, the plaintiff continued to suffer from debilitating pain.

It wasn’t until August of 2014 that the plaintiff entered into the care of a different doctor, who performed a physical examination and ordered blood tests to check for metallosis, or heavy metal toxicity – a complication more frequently seen with metal-on-metal hip implants. The test results showed that the plaintiff did have elevated chromium and cobalt levels. The doctor then ordered a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and subsequently recommended revision surgery, which the plaintiff underwent on October 15, 2014. The plaintiff’s new doctor performed the surgery to explant the ceramic-on-metal bearing surface, replacing it with a ceramic-on-plastic bearing surface.

Plaintiff claims the implant lacked FDA approval

The complainant’s lawsuit claims that DePuy did not have FDA approval, given that the agency had not approved any ceramic-on-metal bearing surface combinations for hip replacement procedures at the time of the plaintiff’s 2007 operation. However, it’s important to note that the individual components of the hip implant were granted FDA approval at different times. The plaintiff questions FDA approval for the combination of components and the device as a whole, pointing out that DePuy did not file a premarket approval application or launch the mandatory two-year clinical trial for this specific system until 2009 – well after the plaintiff’s original surgery.

Lawsuit alleges breach of informed consent

Among its many allegations, the Pinnacle hip lawsuit charges the doctor at John Muir Medical Center with failure to obtain the plaintiff’s informed consent for the procedure. This allegation is based on the alleged failure of the doctor to explain to the plaintiff that he was going to use a combination of device implants that did not receive FDA approval as a whole. The plaintiff further alleges that the orthopedic surgeon failed to inform him of the potential risks of ceramic-on-metal implants or explain alternative options.