Hip implant class action settled for $250m

Hip replacement patient Wayne Otene is one of more than 1700 Australians set to benefit from a record $250 million class action settlement over an alleged defective metal implant.

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A conditional agreement was reached in a Sydney court after a five-year legal battle with UK-based manufacturer DePuy International Ltd and pharmaceutical distributor Johnson & Johnson, representatives from Shine Lawyers and Maurice Blackburn announced on Thursday.

Mr Otene, 64, has suffered from chronic pain since receiving his DePuy ASR hip implant in 2005.

“I couldn’t get rid of the pain from day one and when I went back to work, it just got worse,” Mr Otene told reporters in Sydney.

The product was recalled worldwide in 2010 after patients voiced concerns over groin pain, alleged cobalt poisoning and a lack of clinical trials.

The Australian class action was launched in 2011 and included a 17-week trial in the Federal Court last year after the pharmaceutical giant and manufacturer both denied the device was defective.

It is the largest product class action to be settled in Australian history.

Doctors first realised there was a problem with Mr Otene’s implant when he fractured his hip in 2011.

“The scars are there to prove it. I’ve got no belly button or anything,” he said.

“This happening today has given me a new lease on life.”

Maurice Blackburn senior associate Julian Schimmel said they believed the sum of money was an “appropriate way” to resolve the case.

“If it’s approved by the court, the settlement will mean that patients are entitled to be compensated if they have had revision surgery, which is as a corrective surgery as a result of actual or alleged problems with the ASR implants,” he said.

He said the settlement was agreed by Johnson & Johnson “on the basis that there was no admission of liability”.

A compensation scheme will be devised to handle the distribution of money to class action members based on individual circumstances and losses, Shine Lawyer’s Rebecca Jancauskas said.

“We estimate that there are still hundreds of Australians who are yet to have hip revision surgery and the settlement scheme will therefore remain open for a period of time into the future,” she said.

Lawyers said the result was comparable to a similar class action settlement reached with DePuy in the US.