Uncertainty of DePuy’s Claims Process Suggests Promise for Payment May Be Empty Promise

After DePuy announced its nationwide recall of nearly 100,000 hip implant units, the company indicated it would reimburse affected consumers and their insurers for “reasonable and customary costs of testing and treatment… including revision surgery if it is necessary.” Unfortunately, the medical device manufacturer has not specified which expenses will be deemed “reasonable” and “customary,” nor which revision surgeries are “necessary.” Such uncertainty has spawned confusion among affected recipients.

Although DePuy’s official statements tend to suggest they will pay claims in an efficient and equitable manner, recent court action shows otherwise. For example, in response to a lawsuit filed by Gulf War veteran Scott Almhjell to recover for injuries associated with the complex revision surgery required to remove a defective implant from his body, DePuy lawyers immediately resisted and denied Almhjell was injured by the implants at all. As a matter of fact, the company accused Alhmjell, himself, of causing his injuries in court documents and flat out denied any responsibility. This legal positioning certainly runs counter to DePuy’s original promise to pay for remedial medical action associated with the recall.

In light of DePuy’s reluctance to assume responsibility for its own manufacturing mistakes, several commentators have wondered who will ultimately end up paying the costs associated with the recall. As many patients are insured by Medicaid and Medicare, there has been some speculation that taxpayers may end up shouldering the monetary burden associated with revision surgery, as well as other costs. Because Medicaid and Medicare are government-funded insurers, any uncompensated losses related to the recall will materialize as substantial deductions from federal and state coffers, potentially affecting the viability of other publicly financed programs. Private insurers are not immune either. Any costs they are unable to be reimbursed for will be passed on indirectly to policyholders in the form of premium increases.

Ever more disheartening, DePuy has yet to publicize its own claims adjustment procedures. To this day, the company has refused to announce the parameters of its claims process. Indeed, it appears the only governing principle behind DePuy’s reimbursement program is that of unfettered discretion by its adjusters. Such a system is manifestly unfair, if not downright dishonest.

In response to the uncertainty of DePuy’s internal claims process, many implant recipients are turning to legal professionals for advice and assistance regarding their rights in the DePuy hip implant recall. So far, at least thirty private lawsuits have been filed by individuals hoping to recover for injuries associated with the defective implants, as well as to hold DePuy accountable for its own intentional and negligent behaviors.
Attorneys at The Berniard Law Firm have been rapidly preparing for litigation against DePuy and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson, in the last few months. Based on his previous experience as lead counsel in other complicated multiparty products liability suits, attorney Jeff Berniard has anticipated DePuy’s propensity for denying its own inherent legal responsibilities. Accordingly, he has prepared pleadings and other court documents designed to ensure recipients of the defective hip implants will receive a fair and adequate recovery.

Individuals who have received hip implants since 2003 are urged to contact the Berniard Law Firm to determine whether they are entitled to any monetary damages DePuy may be forced to pay. Don’t wait until it’s too late and a problem unfortunately arises. Make contact with the the Berniard Law Firm today to learn what your rights are at stake in the DePuy hip implant recall.

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