Settlements in hip cases are unique. Typically, there are thousands of cases pending. In the DePuy ASR litigation, there are approximately 14,000 cases. In the Stryker Rejuvenate litigation, there are about 6,000 cases pending. So, when you settle cases like this on a global basis, it is a lot different than settling an individual lawsuit. In these cases, the defendant and plaintiffs will have settlement discussions and try to agree on what the average case should settle for. Once you have that number, you can extrapolate a settlement fund; $2.4 billion was put into a settlement fund in the DePuy ASR litigation. Then, you have to figure out an easy, quick, and verifiable way to apportion the settlement proceeds to people who have a case.
Generally, there is a “formula”, grid, or some process created, where people with severe damages end up with more money than people with limited damages. The formula is also used regarding people with problematic cases that may be difficult to win because of prior health conditions, or other factors, versus cases where someone doesn't have those issues. So, you have a formula or grid, and you might start off with a certain amount of money that a plaintiff receives if they had a revision surgery. Then you would take a deduction of a certain percentage if they were a smoker, or a deduction if they have weight issues, or there might be a deduction if they’re older patients. There are different deductions that may be rational based on what the defendants believe make a good case or a bad case, and others may not be rational. Typically, there is some kind of formula that’s created to either bring somebody down from the base award, or up from the base award.
Modifications that increase base award are usually for extraordinary injuries. For instance, say you had your hip replaced and 3 months later you are up and running, and have no residual, permanent injuries; you would get the base award. Whereas, you might get more than the base award if you ended up with dislocations after your revision, or you had an infection and had to have 2 more surgeries, or you end up with nerve damage and have a limp or drop foot for the rest of your life.
The most important thing to understand is that you do not have to take the settlements in these cases; these settlements are not done deals. The case is an individual for every person who has a case against a hip manufacturer. This means only the plaintiff can settle the case. So, if there is a settlement fund, a way of apportioning money, at some point your lawyer is going to contact you and say, “If you take this settlement, here is how much you will get.” At that point, you are free to either take or reject the settlement. But you are not required to accept a settlement that’s offered to you. If you reject the settlement, then your lawyer will continue litigating your case, and hopefully get a trial date in your case, or do something to move your case forward. So, defendants will hopefully pay more than what you might be awarded under a global settlement.
If you have a recalled hip, a metal on metal hip, feel free to give us a call at 888-635-3970 whether or not your case is settled. We can provide you with information about how settlements work. We can also tell you at the end of the case whether we believe a settlement is adequate or not for you.