J&J's DePuy arm puts another metal hip lawsuit to rest

Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) DePuy division took another small step this month toward addressing legions of lawsuits alleging it sold faulty metal-on-metal hips. The company "resolved" a case in New Jersey, at least the second against the company settled so far in October.

The Rottenstein Law Group, which is handling a number of ASR-related lawsuits, promoted news of the settlement in an announcement. But few details are available. J&J could not be reached for comment on deadline.

The suit was handled in Bergen County District Court in New Jersey (MacDonald et al. v. DePuy Orthopedics). An Oct. 8 court filing noted that Judge Brian Martinotti determined the case "has been resolved," that "all pending motions are withdrawn" and "the complaint will be dismissed with prejudice upon receipt of a fully executed stipulation signed by all counsel." Translated: a settlement is in place, and formal, signed paperwork from both parties was the only thing needed as of the Oct. 8 filing.

Why was this one settled? Attempts to reach J&J/DePuy were unsuccessful at time of publication. Earlier this month, the company settled another lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court in California alleging it had sold a malfunctioning all-metal hip that harmed a man and needed to be replaced after failing.

Many of Johnson & Johnson's rivals face similar suits over malfunctioning metal hip implants, but J&J may have the most piled up against it: up to 11,500. They came after Johnson & Johnson launched a massive recall of 93,000 of its ASR metal hip implants in 2010, 37,000 of which were in the U.S. A number of media outlets reported that J&J was considering a massive settlement that could hit north of $3 billion to resolve the remaining cases.

J&J plans to leave the metal-on-metal and ceramic-on-metal hip business by the end of 2014, due to plunging clinician use of the products and pending FDA regulations expected to make the metal-hip regulatory process much more rigorous.

- here's the court filing
- check on the Rottenstein announcement

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