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Company and Surgeon Run Away When Worker is Gunned Down by a Bad Hip and a Dodgy DePuy Hip Implant

Until a beautiful Florida December Saturday morning in 2008 I enjoyed walking up to 5 miles almost every day.

My walking was so enjoyable because it was not just great exercise for my overall health it was also a big part of my job as an outside Cable Consultant for America’s largest cable provider, Comcast Cable.

I had just turned 50 several months prior, and working for a large company like Comcast Cable not just gave me a rewarding profession, it also provided me and my wife with affordable health insurance, retirement plan, long term disability insurance, and other benefits.

Considering my age, pretty important in today’s economy, don’t you agree?

I appreciated the benefits Comcast Cable provided me with, and I gave back. Never minded working weekends, thinking ‘outside the box’, making myself a name as a reliable and proud representative of the nation’s largest cable, internet, and digital home phone provider. As mentioned above, that was until this beautiful Florida December Saturday morning when I met with the President of a 300-unit subdivision close to Venice beaches:

After a pleasant and professional conversation I left their club house and walked towards my car. While walking down 3, 4 steps, I somehow lost my balance and twisted my right leg. Fortunately, and thanks to a rail guard I avoided a fall. I didn’t pay much attention to the pain, limped back to my car and drove home.

I was off work Sunday and Monday, so I would rest and go back to work Tuesday. Long story short, pain from my almost fall didn’t go away, Tuesday morning I had a hard time to walk at all. Went to an emergency walk-in clinic, and was told that they cannot treat me because my almost fall occurred while at work. Called my manager, he gave me an address of a Workman’s Comp doctor in Sarasota, my wife drove me to that particular address, and now my ordeal was about to begin.

Calendar of Events

Initial Diagnosis

X-rays of my right hip area showed that my right hip was deteriorated, and doctor told me that my case would not qualify as a Workman’s Comp case. He sent me to an orthopaedic specialist. Specialist comes to the same conclusion, recommends hip replacement as soon as possible. After sleeping over it for a couple of nights, and more medical advice about my condition, I agree and surgery was scheduled for 12/22/2008. Doctor said that I would receive a state-of-the-art metal-on-metal hip replacement device, it would last 15 to 20 years, no more pain. Sounded all too good to be true.

Surgery

Surgery went well other then that they had to admit me to the emergency room while I was still hospitalized. In all fairness, out of a sudden I could only breathe under enormous and never experienced pain in my stomach, it felt like breathing was almost cut off. Emergency doctors blamed pain medication I was given post-operation. After MRI and change of medication my system was relaxed, and I was dismissed the day after.

Recovery Problems Emerge

The following weeks were dedicated to home care, wound healing, etc., I started physical therapy approximately 4 weeks post-operation. Several weeks into physical therapy, therapist had no explanation why I was unable to do certain exercises. There was a violent pain sensation present inside my thigh that did not allow me to follow the therapist’s instructions. Supposedly, she informed my surgeon. When I saw him the next time he said that recovery time varies from patient to patient and that my recovery time could take up to one year.

Once I was ordered to walk on full weight – approximately 4 months post-op, I was never able to walk more than half a mile without severe pain kicking in. Actually, to the day severe and violent pain is always present, my hip replaced leg starts hurting extra badly when I walk only very short distances, much shorter than half a mile and often when I don’t walk also. My surgeon always suggested to be patient as recovery from a severe operation like that could take up to a year, or more.

Surgeon doesn’t do his homework

The last time I saw my surgeon was in January of 2010. Again, I told him how severe my pain still was. He discussed a bone marrow transplant with me. A procedure that could help to fasten the stem part of my implanted hip. But he also recommended to stay away from that procedure as he knew of only a couple of cases and they weren’t successful. On top of it I could be on crutches for another 10 to 12 months.

Surgeon – No Money Back Guarantee

During the spring/summer of 2010 I tried to see my surgeon again. Mainly because I was suffering more and more. Unfortunately, due to my long tern ‘Leave of Absence’ I had lost my job with Comcast Cable and all my benefits including health insurance. My surgeon’s front office told me over the phone that I would have to pay a fee of $160 just to see the doctor as an uninsured person. I simply could not afford that at the time.

Employer Terminates due to illness – No Appreciation for Service

Furthermore, and after my employer Comcast Cable had terminated me because of extended ‘Leave of Absence due to illness’, I applied for unemployment benefits. Unemployment office denied me because the agency was not able to help find me a job due to my medical condition. Since surgery and after I started to sit for an extended time, not only severe pain bothered me, also a condition called Edema (excessive swelling of my right foot). Both my doctors back then (until January of 2010), Dr. Cuff (surgeon) and Dr. Schulte (family doctor) knew about that additional condition. Ironically, if I would have not told unemployment agency about my additional condition of Edema, they would have paid me unemployment benefits. But because I was honest, I was denied unemployment benefits.

Discovery that DePuy Hip is Implanted

After I learned that I have a metal-on-metal Pinnacle ACE acetabucular cup hip replacement made by DePuy Orthopedics in the summer of 2010, I went to the Venice Regional hospital in order to request my Medical Records and Implant Report.

Severe Hip Pain Continues to Get Worse

Meanwhile I had developed more severe pain in the hip area of my operated hip, also of my left hip, back, and all the way up the neck. My severe and violent pain is causing me a lot of discomfort, my overall medical condition seems to get worst and worst, ie.

  • I cannot get in and outside of a vehicle without terrible pain in my right leg and right hip.
  • I cannot get up from sitting or laying down positions without terrible pain in my left and right leg and left and right hip.
  • I can only walk very short distances without severe pain starting inside my right leg and right hip.
  • I move and walk very slowly, because I am afraid to fall with every single step I do.
  • I have to sit down in order to get dressed.
  • When I turn my neck to the left or to the right a little faster than very slow, I see ‘stars’. Also, when I move my neck, another violent pain stretches out all the way down to my lower back.
  • Both my hands and arms developed a tingling sensation that stretches all the way from the tip of my pinky fingers to the elbows.
  • Each time I have to cough or sneeze, I experience a violent pain sensation inside right thigh and hip areas. Also stretching, yawning, or just taking a deep breathe causes extra violent pain besides my always present regular pain.
  • Since my surgery I have never slept for more than 2 hours straight. Many times I wake up screaming, pain must get so violent when I stretch or change positions in my sleep. My wife witnesses that every single night.

What Social Security?

At the end of August 2010 I applied for Social Security Disability benefits. My initial claim and first appeal both were denied. At the present time I am awaiting appointment for hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. According to the social security specialized lawyer I asked to represent me, my hearing will be scheduled sometimes in November or December 2010. My lawyer said that – considering my medical condition and my age – there is a good chance that I will be granted social security benefits and Medicare. Evidence of my bad medical condition is also a small settlement a different lawyer reached in my case against a private long term disability insurance in June of 2010.

Filed an Official Complaint with FDA

In December of 2010 I filed an official complaint with the FDA because of my obviously failing hip device.

The County’s Health Department Provides some Help

Also in December of 2010 I was granted eligibility for the County’s Health Department. Unfortunately, the County’s Health Department cannot pay for tests needed, such as specific blood tests on toxic metals, MRIs, and bone scans.

Toxic Metal Levels 200 higher than Normal

Early 2011, I purchased non-invasive test kits on toxic metals. Test results on toxic metals (such as Cobalt, Chromium, etc.) showed levels 200 times higher than normal. According to reliable sources, toxic metal levels 5 times higher than normal are considered dangerous for humans. I am seriously frightened of more present and future damaging health issues because of that.

Annual Post-Op Call Up

In January of 2011, I received a phone call from my surgeon’s office to come in for the so called annual post-op appointment. Because his office would only see me as a self-paying patient back in the spring/summer of 2010 (see #6 above), this time I wrote a letter to my surgeon and dropped it off at their office. In the letter I expressed my disappointment in the way they treated me after they learned that I am uninsured. I also informed my surgeon about my bad medical condition, and that I still have not recovered from my surgery, at this point 25 months post-op.

Surgeon Ducks for Cover – Despite Clearly Installing Toxic DePuy Hip Device

Remarkably, this time my surgeon called me back the same day. His major concern was that he wanted to make clear that he always cared for me and my post-op condition. When I answered that I agree with him to a certain degree, but that I am also very concerned about my medical condition – especially regarding my high levels of toxic metals – he said that all patients with metal-on-metal implants will always have elevated metal levels in their blood streams. When I pointed out that I still suffer from always present severe and violent pain, he confirmed that additional blood tests, MRIs, and bone scans need to be conducted, but his clinic wouldn’t be a ‘free clinic’ and I would have to pay for all these expensive tests. I told him that I cannot afford to pay for all these tests needed.

More remarkable, and when our conversation went to the current DePuy recall, and publications about the danger of metal-on-metal hip devices, he said that ‘all them lawyers are just after the money of the big company (J&J/DePuy)’.

Unsympathetic Surgeon’s Details

At this point, I like to remark, that my surgeon’s office is called Sun Coast Orthopaedic, located in Venice, Florida. My surgeon, Dr, Cuff, is the junior of a 3 doctors office. Interesting fact, when searching DePuy’s official website for ‘doctors in your area’, Dr. Noah’s Sun Coast Orthopaedic is popping up first. Dr. Noah is the head doctor.

After my phone conversation with Dr. Cuff I never contacted this doctor’s office again.

Medical Condition Worsens by the Day

At the present time, and as my medical condition gets even worst, I feel the need for medical assistance, but it is not looking good to get any unless I will be approved for disability benefits and Medicare.

Where is the Government When You Need Them?

I worked ever since I graduated from a higher school (high school equivalent) in the American Sector of the German State of Hessen. Between the United States of America (since 1996) and Germany (from 1975 until 1995) I worked a total of more than 30 years, and prior to my hip replacement surgery, I planned to work for my last employer, Comcast Cable, until I would reach retirement age. I worked as a police officer in the American Sector of Germany, I was an active partner of a private investigation firm operating all over the world, and I worked as a self-employed insurance agent with up to 100 employees in Germany. In the United States of America, I worked as a Florida licensed realtor, and in different fields as an outside sales representative.

I never asked for any government help here or in Germany until I never recovered from my hip replacement surgery. I know about severe and violent pain since I went through a lot of sports injury related surgeries when I was a soccer player in my youth and as a young adult. This level of severe and violent pain I suffer from ever since my hip replacement is unknown to me. I would rather work than to have to go through all the damaging effects of my hip replacement surgery. While downplaying statements of my surgeon and device maker DePuy sound very depressing and frustrating to me, I seek legal help on the matter. I never anticipated that this failing hip implant and not recovering from post-surgery would have caused so much discomfort, pain, loss of quality of life, and financial disaster (all my savings, 401K, life insurance loans are all gone).

Regards,

Juergen Schaberick
Venice, Florida

Addendum:

I would like to add that I am represented by Ed Blizzard in the case against DePuy.  Ed Blizzard was the leading attorney in the big Vioxx case against Merck. Verdict/settlement was almost 5 billion dollars for victims. Ed really seems to care for people.

Ed Blizzard

Houston, Texas
Phone        713-844-3750
Toll-free     1-800-349-0127
Fax             713-844-3755

Contact us for a free case review

Ed is originally from Chester, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Texas in 1971 shortly after he graduated from high school. At the University of Texas at Austin, Ed excelled at his undergraduate studies, graduating with honors. Ed earned his law degree from Baylor University School of Law, graduating cum laude and garnering several awards, including American Jurisprudence Awards for Property, Federal Courts, Administrative Law, Property and Practice Court. Additionally, Ed was inducted into the Order of the Barristers, one of the most prestigious legal honor societies. During law school, Ed perfected his trial advocacy skills as a member of the Baylor mock trial team. Ed’s exceptional oratory skills allowed him to excel in several competitions, including as a finalist in Baylor Law School Mock Trial Competition.

Ed founded Blizzard, McCarthy & Nabers in 1981 after working for three years as a litigator at Fulbright & Jaworski, L.L.P- a well-known nationwide litigation firm. Over the past 25 years, Ed has been a part of some of the largest pharmaceutical injury verdicts and settlements in the country. Not only has Ed helped obtain 9 billion dollars in settlements and verdicts for thousands of clients, but he has also become a leader in mass tort litigation. Some of Ed’s leadership roles include:

  • Appointed to six member Negotiating Plaintiff’s Committee (NPC) in Vioxx MDL 1657 and helped negotiate a 4.85 billion dollar settlement
  • Member of the Fee Allocation Committee in the Vioxx MDL 1657
  • Served as the chair of the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in Ephedra Litigation, MDL 1598
  • One of five lawyers appointed to negotiate Sulzer Hip Implant Litigation MDL 1401
  • Member of Steering Committee in the Diet Drug Litigation, MDL 1203
  • Member of Texas Steering Committee in Silicone Breast Implant Litigation
  • One of the chief negotiators of the $3 billion Dow Corning settlement
  • Appointed to the State Liaison Committee in the Baycol Proceedings
  • Member of Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in the New York ReNu and MoistureLoc proceedings
  • Member of Plaintiff’s Steering Committee in Digitek Litigation MDL 1968

Ed’s leadership role in mass tort litigation has prompted his participation as a frequent speaker at continuing legal education seminars where he teaches other practicing attorneys about mass tort litigation. Some of the recent notable classes and seminars that Ed has taught include:

  • Deconstructing the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision on Preemption in Wyeth v. Levine (2009 AAJ Teleseminar)
  • Vioxx: An Overview and Maneuvering Through the Settlement Process (2008 AAJ San Juan Winter Convention)
  • “Hot Topics in Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Litigation”, (2008 AAJ Faculty Seminar)
  • “Pushing Cases in Litigation to Achieve Resolution”, (AAJ June 2008)
  • “Winning in Depositions: Victory through Killer Depositions, (AAJ February 2008)

As one of the most prominent Pharmaceutical litigation attorneys in the country, Ed has won several awards including the Clarence Darrow Award, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, Super Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and The Best Lawyers in America 2007 and 2011 in the field of Personal Injury Litigation.

Ed’s significant verdicts and success has garnered widespread media attention from prominent media outlets such as, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and ABC News. Additionally, Ed has made several television appearances including A Current Affair, MSNBC‘s Squawk Box and CNN Financial News.

Ed is married to his college sweetheart, Cindy, and they have a lovely daughter, Anna, who is the pride and joy of their life together. In his spare time, Ed loves to play golf.

 

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