UPDATE, December 29, 2017: the number of lawsuits against Smith & Nephew for the defective Birmingham Hip Resurfacing device has passed the 200 mark in federal court. Jasper D. Ward of Jones Ward is co-lead counsel in the litigation on behalf of plaintiffs from more than 40 states. Plaintiffs filed a 160-page master lawsuit against S&N in August, and will appear before Judge Catherine Blake for oral argument in January 2018.
Earlier this year, hip implant patients with injuries from Smith & Nephew BHR devices took a step closer to justice on April 5 when a panel of judges consolidated dozens of lawsuits in Maryland as part of a new mass tort proceeding.
The decision by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is the culmination of a years-long effort by the hip implant trial attorneys at Jones Ward PLC to seek justice for those hurt by premature failure of the metal-on-metal BHR device. Hundreds of patients have reported injuries from metal toxicity, pseudotumors, and metallosis leading to revision surgery. In the wake of the panel’s decision, those patients will no longer have to fight against Smith & Nephew individually in courtrooms scattered across the country. Jones Ward believes recipients of the defective Smith & Nephew BHR devices are so numerous that an MDL is the most effective way to seek compensation from the company.
Leading the Way
Very few law firms are willing to take on Smith & Nephew due to legal protections linked to the manner in which Smith & Nephew received approval from the FDA to market the BHR devices. That’s not the case at Jones Ward, which represents more injured Smith & Nephew hip implant victims in federal court than any other law firm in the nation. On February 1, 2017, the hip implant lawyers at Jones Ward filed a petition with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all pending federal BHR cases in a single venue. This will allow for greater efficiency and help to hold Smith & Nephew accountable for the hundreds of device failures that have forced patients to undergo painful and costly revision surgeries. Judge Catherine C. Blake will preside over the coordinated BHR litigation.
Why does the BHR fail?
The BHR device consists of a femoral head component and a hemispherical acetabular cup that is made in a range of 12 sizes. The cup fits into the patient’s hip socket, or acetabulum, and then rubs against the femoral head during articulation (movement) of the patient’s hip joint. Both components are made of cobalt and chromium metal alloys, and thus are “metal-on-metal” hip implant components. Over time, the movement of the metal components inside the hip joint leads to tiny particles of metal being shed into the patient’s hip joint and body, which in many cases leads to bone and tissue necrosis, toxic damage and the formation of pseudo tumors. The problems associated with the BHR are similar to the injuries caused by other metal-on-metal hip devices, which have been well documented starting with the August 2010 recall of the DePuy ASR device. Data compiled by the National Joint Registry of England and Wales show the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing device has a seven-year revision rate of 11.76 percent, well above the normal acceptable failure rate for a device of this type. Similar data compiled by the National Joint Replacement Registry of Australia in 2015 show the BHR has a ten-year revision rate of 14.5 percent for women. Other studies place the failure rate for women as high as 26 percent.
Smith & Nephew hip implant recalls
The BHR may be used as part of a hip resurfacing, or it may be combined with a femoral stem in a total hip arthroplasty. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved the BHR for sale in the U.S. on May 9, 2006, through the Premarket Approval (“PMA”) process for Class III medical devices. The company later withdrew the BHR device from the U.S. market in June 2015 due to similar high failure rates, particularly in women and in patients with smaller hip joints.
What is my Smith & Nephew hip implant lawsuit worth?
For many patients, the only remedy is to have the BHR device surgically removed in a surgery called a revision. Here are some of the typical medical bills for a patient with a defective BHR hip device.
- Medical monitoring and blood tests: $3,000 a year
- Revision surgery: $55,000 to $95,000
- Physical therapy and nursing home care after revision: $12,000
- Long-term follow up care: $1,700 a year
How do I preserve my rights?
If you do not file a lawsuit within a certain amount of time, you may lose your right to compensation due to the Statute of Limitation. This deadline is different in each state, and it varies depending on the claims you are making in the lawsuit. In Kentucky, for example, the deadline for a product liability claim is one year. However, the same claim in Indiana is two years, and in Florida it is four years. For a free evaluation of your potential Smith & Nephew BHR hip recall claim, contact Attorneys Jasper D. Ward or Alex C. Davis.