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Ohio-based products liability settlement nears $3 billion

An ongoing case in a federal district court in Toledo, Ohio, presents an example, on the macro level, of the serious consequences that unreasonably dangerous products can have on individuals. The defective product manufacturer, DePuy Orthopedics, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, has already agreed to pay out $2.5 billion to settle more than 7,500 claims arising from a defective hip implant; now it has agreed to come up with more than $400 million more to settle another 1,400 claims. This extension of the settlement will still leave claims outstanding.

The problem with the product arose from what was meant to be an advantage in its design and composition. The hip implant was a metal composition that included chromium and cobalt in its manufacture, and was meant to be durable enough to last two decades. But patients who had the implants inserted began to report problems: pain, hip dislocations and possibly most seriously symptoms of blood-based metal poisoning.

A products liability lawsuit can be based on defective product design, or defective manufacture. Claims in this instance have been mainly based on the former of these two issues. Many of the implants have had to be surgically removed. Individual lawsuits have resulted in jury awards of as much as $8 million, but the extension of the settlement offer anticipates only about $300,000 per claimant.

Not all product liability claims against the implant manufacturer have been successful, and some remain outstanding. Some claimants have turned down Johnson & Johnson's settlement offer as being insufficient; others Johnson & Johnson has refused to settle, including those concerning people who still have the hip implants inside of them and foreign-based claims.

The decision of whether to litigate or to settle a product liability claim depends heavily on the selection of legal counsel. A law firm that is experienced with product liability lawsuits, including cases involving defective hip implants, can provide relevant and helpful advice on how to pursue such a claim.

Source: Bloomberg Business, "J&J to Pay as Much as $420 Million More in ASR Hip Accord," Jef Feeley, Feb. 23, 2015

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