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Rottenstein Law Group Advises Caution Before Calling DePuy “Help Line”

Posted on October 7, 2010 by Rottenstein Law Group

The Rottenstein Law Group cautions that DePuy Orthopaedics might be soliciting information from recipients of defective hip implants manufactured by the company, in order to use that information to avoid responsibility for the harms caused by the devices.

DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, in August of 2010 issued a worldwide hip replacement recall for two of its devices. The ASR Hip Resurfacing System and ASR XL Acetabular System—the complementary ball and socket devices, respectively—have been determined to be defective and can “fail catastrophically.” Many recipients of an ASR device need to have a “revision” surgery to replace the implant.

With the recall, DePuy had seemingly accepted responsibility for the defects of its products, even promising to “cover reasonable and customary costs of testing and… including revision surgery if it is necessary.” Now, however, it appears that DePuy intends to blame the victims, possibly using information gathered by way of a “help line” to do so. In papers recently filed in California Supreme Court, DePuy asserts that recipients of the recalled ASR devices have been “negligent, careless, and at fault and conducted themselves so as to contribute substantially to their alleged injuries and damages.”

DePuy is asking recipients of a recalled ASR device to call its “ASR Help Line,” ostensibly so that a victim can be “assigned a claim number” and so that DePuy will be able to “process… reasonable out-of-pocket costs.” Yet, according to Rochelle Rottenstein of the Rottenstein Law Group, claimants should be wary of divulging any information on any such help line operated or sanctioned by DePuy. “Victims of DePuy’s malfeasance might find their candid communications to the ‘help line’ being used as admissions against them in court,” says Rottenstein. She notes that DePuy has no duty of confidentiality to people who call the help line and is free to use the information for the company’s benefit in litigation.

Letters sent by DePuy (or by doctors, at DePuy’s suggestion) to recipients of the recalled devices urge the recipients to call the toll-free help line. A caller to the help line is instructed to send certain documentation to Broadspire Services, a New Jersey-based insurance company. Rottenstein cautions potential claimants against calling the DePuy help line or sending documentation to Broadspire before speaking with a lawyer.

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