J&J back in court over DePuy hip implants

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) is no stranger to the defendant's table, facing more than 10,000 lawsuits over the now-recalled DePuy ASR hip implants, but now the company is facing its first suit claiming that the devices left patients immobile and in agony, Bloomberg reports.

Attorneys have begun jury selection in a Maryland lawsuit filed by a woman who claims that her ASR implants left her "unable to lead a normal life," according to the news outlet, and she's seeking at least $15 million in damages while accusing J&J of knowingly marketing a faulty device. The company, for its part, points to the tech's FDA clearance and denies that the recalled implants were defective.

J&J has spent hundreds of millions to fight and settle suits since ASR's 2010 recall, dealing mostly with claims that the metal-on-metal devices were prone to chafe and flake off metallic bits into the bloodstream, putting patients at risk of tissue death and toxicity. As Bloomberg points out, the company increased its settlement war chest by an undisclosed amount last fall to prepare for an increase in filings.

The widening fallout over all-metal hips--whether recalled or still on the market--has looped in more than just J&J. Biomet is facing a similar lawsuit over its M2a Magnum Hip System, and devicemakers like Stryker ($SYK) and Smith & Nephew ($SNN) are grappling with bottomed-out demand for the implants after both the FDA and the U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) advised surgeons to avoid using them.

J&J is also fighting a legal battle on another front: In New Jersey, jury selection is ramping up this week for lawsuits over Gynecare Prolift, the company's vaginal mesh implant that plaintiffs say it marketed without warning patients of serious dangers.

- read the Bloomberg story