* Plaintiff says J&J was aware of defects
* J&J says metal hip implant did not cause health problems
By Deena Beasley
Los Angeles, Jan 25 Johnson & Johnson
was aware of defects when it started selling its now-recalled
metal hip implants in 2004, lawyers said on Friday during
opening arguments in a personal injury trial against the
More than 10,000 lawsuits have been filed against J&J after
its DePuy unit recalled the all-metal ASR hip implants in 2010
following recognition that they were failing at
Opening arguments were heard in the first case to reach
trial. The suit was filed in California Superior Court by
66-year-old Loren Kransky, whose ASR hip was replaced early last
"I'm sure that ultimately there will be some sort of global
settlement," said Georgene Vairo, professor of law at Loyola
University in Los Angeles. "But they are going to litigate some
cases. Even though it was clear that something was wrong with
the product, that may not be the cause in each individual
Kransky's attorney, Michael Kelly, said the ASR hip caused
elevated levels of cobalt and chromium in Kransky, while J&J
lawyers said the amount of metals shown in tests was not high
enough to cause health problems.
"Doctors relied 100 percent on DePuy and patients relied 100
percent on doctors and information was kept from them," said
Lawyers for J&J contend that Kransky, a lifelong smoker
suffering from diabetes and eventually kidney cancer, was in
extremely poor health, mainly caused by vascular disease, well
before he received the ASR hip.
"The evidence will show that DePuy is a good and
conscientious company," said J&J attorney Alexander Calfo.
He said the doctor who removed the ASR implant from Kransky
will testify that he was "coached" by the Kransky family and its
lawyers to use certain phrases, including the implication of
metal poisoning, in medical records of the procedure.
With wear, all-metal implants can shed metal where two
components connect, potentially damaging bone and soft tissue.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week issued a
proposal calling on companies that make all-metal hip
replacements to provide additional information proving they are
safe and effective before being allowed to continue selling
The metal implants were developed to be more durable than
traditional implants, which combine a ceramic or metal ball with
a plastic socket, but concerns have grown after they were shown
to fail more often.
As many as 500,000 American are estimated to have received
metal-on-metal hip replacements.