The DePuy Pinnacle Ultamet metal-on-metal hip implant comprised four components – a femoral stem which is inserted into the femur, a cobalt-chromium femoral head, or a ball, which connects to the top of the stem, a titanium acetabular cup which attaches to the pelvis and a liner, which sits inside the acetabular cup.
Although the liners in some hip implant systems are composed of polyethylene or ceramic material, the Pinnacle Ultamet liner is cobalt-chromium, so the metal ball component articulates against a metal liner.
Liam Moloney is acting on behalf of many Irish people who received the DePuy ASR hip device and who have suffered significant complications as a result of these devices to include elevated cobalt and chromium levels in their blood. He has successfully obtained significant monetary settlements for these patients.
If you are a patient who received either a DePuy ASR or Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant you should arrange to have an MRI scan done of your hip implant to ensure that the hip is functioning correctly. You should also arrange for a blood test to be carried out to measure the level of cobalt and chromium in your bloodstream.
DePuy Orthopaedics marketed the Ultamet as superior to other hip implant products and as being uniquely suited to the needs of younger, more active patients. The metal-on-metal construction was marketed as being more durable and longer lasting than traditional metal-plastic designs. The implant itself was projected to last twenty years. The company reportedly sold about 155,000 Pinnacle devices.
Plaintiffs in the United States who received the implant pursued a class action against the company for damages alleging that, as a result of the Ultamet’s negligent design, friction occurred when the implant’s metal head rubbed against the metal liner, leading to corrosion of components and the release of metal ions into the bloodstream.
The resulting “wear debris” contaminated the patient’s blood and surrounding tissue, causing problems ranging from pain and inflammation to metal poisoning, tissue death, bone loss and other severe complications.
The Plaintiffs also offered evidence at trial that in 2004,
DePuy determined that metal ions from a similarly made cobalt-chrome implant had caused extensive tissue damage in England. The company did not immediately get that information to doctors or insert it into their warnings the Plaintiff claimed, but instead continued claiming that no one knew what damage the debris might cause.
The jury awarded €28 million in compensatory damages. They also found that both DePuy and Johnson & Johnson as parent company had acted with malice, oppression or fraud, warranting punitive damages.
The jury awarded about €1 billion in punitive damages.