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Habush files 80 lawsuits over defective hip implants – UPDATE

Litigation over defective hip implants took a step forward this week as Milwaukee-based personal injury firm Habush Habush & Rottier SC filed 80 lawsuits on behalf of Wisconsin residents and their families.

And according to Habush attorney Tim Trecek, there are more to come.

“We have had eight more just come in since we put those 80 together,” he said. “Just based on how the numbers keep climbing, we’ll probably be over 100.”

The initial claims, filed in Ohio federal court, are against defendants Johnson & Johnson Inc., DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. and their subsidiaries, seeking compensation for injuries caused by the failure of the now-recalled DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System.

Waukesha-based Cannon & Dunphy SC is also active in pursing claims against Johnson & Johnson. In April, attorney Kevin Martin said he expected “several dozen” lawsuits to be filed by the firm in the coming months.

According to Trecek, the metal-on-metal defective replacements have been used by more than 93,000 patients worldwide.

After data revealed that within five years of implant, the ASR system failed at a rate of 13 percent, or more than one out of every eight patients, DePuy recalled the product on Aug. 24, 2010.

Effects of the faulty hip replacements have included infection, bone fractures and increased chromium or cobalt levels in the blood stream due to tiny metallic fragments shearing off of the system.

The lawsuits were filed in the Northern District Court of Ohio where initial discovery is taking place on all federal DePuy ASR XL Acetabular hip cases as part of the Multi-District Litigation.

After completion of initial discovery, Trecek expected that the cases will likely return to their respective home districts, including the Eastern or Western District Courts of Wisconsin for further proceedings.

Trecek filed “short-form” claims directly in Ohio, which means that if they return to Wisconsin, full complaints may need to be filed with the court.

“It’s yet to be determined, practically, how that will happen,” he said. “But we won’t be starting from ground zero.”

Trecek said the Ohio court will likely determine the liability aspects and pick a couple of bellwether cases to try.

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