Testimony began in late January over claims that the DePuy metal-on-metal hip implant was defective and that its maker, Johnson & Johnson, concealed knowledge of its defects. More than 10,000 similar lawsuits are pending in the United States, but this lawsuit, filed by Loren Kransky of Montana, was the first to reach trial.
Documents indicate that J&J knew the DePuy hip implant was defective and hid such knowledge, including complaints from doctors and an internal test indicating the implant's failures.
A J&J compliance manager testified that even after DePuy recognized the hip implant was badly designed and had a high failure rate, the company failed to take the proper steps needed to identify the defects and eliminate risks, yet continued to market the device. Two years ago, all 93,000 DePuy implants were recalled.
During opening statements in Los Angeles Superior Court, Kransky's attorney showed the jury photos of metal pieces that had flaked off from the implant and lodged in Kransky's hip socket. Jurors heard part of a recorded deposition from a doctor, who Kransky would have died had the metal flakes not been removed.
A lawyer for DePuy Orthopedics Inc. told jurors that Kransky had pre-existing health problems, including exposure to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. The attorney said Kransky's health didn't improve after the implant was removed and that “hip surgery is not perfect.”