Hundreds of hip implant claims ditched as High Court rules not defective

High Court London

The High Court has ruled that metal-on-metal hip implants are not defective, in one of the largest product liability group actions in recent years.

More than 300 claimants had brought a case against prosthesis manufacturer DePuy. They argued the Ultamet hip replacement prosthesis released metal particles in the surrounding tissues, presenting an ‘abnormal’ potential for damage.

DePuy argued that a known consequence of the ordinary use of a product could not amount to a defect under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, a point the court agreed with.

The court also found that the claimants didn’t prove the metal-on-metal implants didn’t meet the level of safety that the public were entitled to expect when they entered the market in 2002.

Legal proceedings have been brought against almost all manufactures of similar prostheses. The other actions were stayed pending the outcome of the DePuy trial.

Leigh Day, which acted for the claimants, hasn’t said whether it will appeal the decision.

Kennedys, which represented DePuy, predicted the ruling would affect many hundreds of other claims against manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants in the UK and the European Union generally. Partner Samantha Silver noted: “The decision that the safety of new products should be compared to products existing at the time they are introduced to the market also safeguards the position of those developing new, potentially life-enhancing, technologies in the future.”

In 2012, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency issued a medical device alert for all metal-on-metal hip replacements. This was updated last year as the MHRA wanted to “ensure patients with metal-on-metal hip implants continue to receive appropriate follow-up to detect emerging complications should they arise”.

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