Monday 16 July 2018

Woman (81) with DePuy hip replacement awarded €321k by High Court

The High Court (Stock Image)
The High Court (Stock Image)

Aodhan O'Faolain

An 81-year old woman who sued over her DePuy hip replacement has been awarded €321,000 by the High Court.

Joan Dineen from near Blarney,Co Cork was entitled, Mr Justice Kevin Cross ruled to expect the replacement hip which she got in 2009 would have afforded her with a good degree of comfort for the remainder of her life.

But the judge said  after two further revision operations she is now in a significantly worse position than she would have been had the hip replacement not occurred.

"Mrs Dineen's injuries are severe and indeed permanent and this has caused major disruption to her life," Mr Justice Cross said.

She had sued DePuy International Ltd for damages over the alleged failure of an ASR replacement hip manufactured by DePuy and which she got in a right hip operation in February 2009.

Mr Justice Cross found the DePuy ASR hip product was a defective product and the result of the defects was that the ASR failed to an alarming degree.

"These failure rates were unacceptable and siginficantly higher than what might be anticipated to be a  normal or acceptable failure rate. This failure resulted in excessive ion levels and damage to the user's bones or muscles and necessitated revisions", he said.

The judge also found Mrs Dineen suffered injury as a result of the defective product and she noticed pain and clicking and when the first revision was carried out there was evidence of bone damage.

Mr Justice Cross said he did not believe  DePuy deliberately set out to manufacture or sell a product that would cause injury. The state of knowledge at the time was that defects and failures occurred in all hip replacements, but that the ASR failure rate proved significiantly excessive.

"Had DePuy robustly tested the ASR product, the defects which subsequently came to light would  have been noticed prior to production", Mr Justice Cross said.

However the judge said the threshold for the awarding for aggravated damages had not to been met and the damages in the case would be compensatory.

De Puy, the judge said  by the time Mrs Dineen's ASR was produced  were aware of serious problems and alarming failures of the ASR and had sought to remedy the problems with an alternative model which was later suspended for commercial reasons.

Mrs Dineen's case was heard over twenty days at the High Court and is  regarded as a test case. There are over one thousands claims in respect of alleged injury caused by DePuy's ASR hip, but the Dineen case was only the second case to go to full hearing as most claims have availed of the court approved Alternative Dispute Resolution Scheme.

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