After indicating willingness to create a settlement fund of over $3 billion in August to settle DePuy ASR hip claims, DePuy has settled in the first bellwether trial in a consolidated litigation in California in San Francisco. DePuy is also facing a consolidation of lawsuits in the Northern District of Ohio, and in a New Jersey state multi-county litigation.
The first California trial was scheduled to begin in October, but DePuy has reached a settlement agreement with plaintiff Robert Ottman, the terms of which are confidential (Ottman v. Johnson & Johnson Services). Consumers using DePuy’s ASR hip implants complain that the metal-on-metal hip is defective because it releases metal into the body, causing metal poisoning. DePuy’s willingness to settle in this case could lead to larger settlement agreements with remaining plaintiffs.
The first trial in the Ohio MDL has been set aside by Judge Katz in order to allow additional discovery so that both sides are fully prepared to present their cases. As per Judge Katz’s order, the trial should restart in January. The first trials in Bergen County New Jersey are set to begin on October 21.
Bellwether trials are selected to be representative of the consolidated cases, and to provide a test run of the facts and legal theories underlying the cases. The results of bellwether trials provide a backdrop to help lead to settlements in the remaining consolidated cases, so the results of bellwether trials can have a significant impact in other pending cases.