Court settlement may help local hip-replacement patients

Court settlement may help local hip-replacement patients

CHAMPAIGN — Jane Hogan's ordeal started with a faulty hip-replacement surgery in 2005 and dragged her through years of pain, revision surgeries, trips to the emergency room and dependence on her friends.

Now she's finally seeing a chance to put all that to rest.

Hogan, 68, of Savoy is one of hundreds in the Champaign-Urbana area — and thousands across the country — who could be eligible to share in a nearly $2.5 billion settlement for patients who underwent a hip replacement surgery with the ASR Hip System made by DePuy Orthopaedics and had to undergo revision surgery.

The settlement agreement could resolve cases for about 8,000 patients who underwent a revision procedure as of Aug. 31 for reasons related to the ASR hip recall, according to DePuy's parent company, Johnson & Johnson.

There are more than 200 patients in the Champaign-Urbana area who underwent ASR Hip System replacement surgeries, according to Urbana attorney Ryan Bradley, who said his law firm is representing more than 50 of those local clients in the lawsuit.

Hogan recalls opting for hip-replacement surgery in 2005 because she was feeling discomfort and pain.

But, she added, "it's been a nightmare ever since."

The original surgery was followed by trips to the emergency room when the hip dislocated, then two revision surgeries in July and October last year.

She lost four months of work time, went an entire year without being able to drive, lived six months with friends who helped care for her and wound up having to move to a ranch-style condo so she wouldn't have to climb stairs any more. And now one leg is shorter than the other, she said.

"It's been pretty traumatic — not just physical pain, but psychologically," Hogan said. "It's like I have a fear of falling. Every time something happens, I'm afraid something is going to dislocate. I've even had to go to therapy. I guess I lost my confidence."

Hogan returned to work this year and said she's moved on.

"I just want it to be done and over, and if there's any good to come out of it, it would be nice if there were a settlement," she said.

John Cox, 77, of Urbana said he underwent a faulty hip-replacement procedure in September 2008 and had to undergo a revision surgery in February because the hip device was releasing metals into his bloodstream.

Having to undergo a second surgery has been an ordeal for him because it's exacerbated his other health problems, he said.

He'd likely use any money he gets in a settlement to buy a single-story house without any stairs, he said.

"I can anticipate (stairs) being a problem in the future, because my wife also has the same hip problem," he said. "We live in a tri-level, so to go anywhere in the house, it's seven steps to the next floor."

Bradley, a partner with Phebus & Koester, said the average settlement could be around $250,000, but amounts will vary according to clients' individual experiences.

"It's important to note that to take the settlement or to proceed on to trial is up to the individual client on a case-by-case basis," he said.

Bradley said his law firm began sending letters to clients about the settlement Thursday and expects to get individual settlement offers for clients from Johnson & Johnson in the upcoming weeks.

The majority of payments related to the settlement — presented Tuesday in federal court in Toledo, Ohio — will be made from currently available cash in 2014, the company said.

DuPuy issued a voluntary recall of the ASR Hip System in August 2010. It was used widely in the local area at Carle and other medical providers.

Carle orthopedic surgeon Dr. Michael Moran didn't do any of the original ASR Hip System implants, but he's performed over 50 revision surgeries for patients who had the ASR device, and he's following additional patients who could require another surgery, he said.

Some revision surgeries were needed for patients with pain related to metal debris in the hip, and some were for patients with elevated metal ion levels in their bloodstreams, Moran said. He said when it's performed correctly, the surgery has been proven to improve quality of life.

"Total hip replacement is an extremely successful operation, and in terms of the documented success of the operation and the proven quality of life, it's unsurpassed by other procedures," Moran said. "However, the surgery has to be performed technically well and performed with proper implants."

Implants used by surgeons today are also what were used before the metal-on-metal implant era, Moran said: They're either metal-on-plastic or ceramic-on-plastic, both surfaces that "have always performed well," he said.

Total hip-replacement surgery increases every year as baby boomers age, and as implant performance has led surgeons to feel confident about expanding its use to younger age groups, Moran said.

He also said the metal-on-metal experience has led to re-evaluation of the approval process for new implants.

"It's definitely gotten stricter," he said. "So patients should be aware that surgeons and government regulators have learned from the metal-on-metal hip experience."

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enoughalready wrote on November 22, 2013 at 9:11 am

How much of the settlement is going to lawyers?  How much to the local firm?  I'm sure it's a significant part of the settlement therefore a relevant part of the story.

Deb Pressey wrote on November 22, 2013 at 11:11 am

Attorney Ryan Bradley said each internal agreement between client and attorney is privileged and he was not free to talk about that.