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No cost to take part in hip action

NATASHA EWENDT

10 Aug, 2011 11:30 PM Source: Port Lincoln Times, South Australia

LOCALS can participate in a Federal Court action over faulty hip replacements at no cost.

Maurice Blackburn lawyers Ben Slade and Julian Schimmel met with the Port Lincoln Hip Group to outline the firm’s Federal Court class action on behalf of Australian DePuy ASR hip joint recall patients.

Group chair Liz Penfold said the first step in the class action is for the court to decide whether DePuy should compensate the lead claimant, a Tasmanian school teacher, and if so how much.

The benefit of this Federal Court decision will then flow on to all other eligible claimants at no cost to them.

Maurice Blackburn will be paid if there is a successful judgement, which the company is confident it will obtain.

After the court has made its decision each eligible claimant can go to their lawyers of choice who will negotiate on their behalf for a compensation payment that reflects their particular circumstances, both present and future.

Many older recipients of the faulty hips, which have caused pain requiring another hip replacement and caused metal poisoning, will require home help and some of the younger patients may have to be compensated for loss of present and future capacity to earn a living for themselves and their families.

“Very little is currently known about the symptoms of cobalt and chromium poisoning, however from listening to the stories of the people who have spoken to me I know that headaches, thyroid problems, heart issues and even cancer are suspected to have resulted from high levels of these heavy metals being in the blood,” Mrs Penfold said.

“Anyone with a metal on metal hip or knee should in my view have their cobalt and chromium levels tested, particularly if they do not feel well or have unexplained symptoms which are often being attributed to other things such as in one case post polio syndrome.

“There are about 5500 faulty hip implants in Australia with about 1500 in South Australia, of which 37 from Eyre Peninsula have contacted our group and attended one or more of the meetings held or been sent the notes from the meetings to inform them of the surprising things we have discovered about these implants.

“The meetings are free and with no obligation but are a great help in understanding the problems involved in having these implants.”

Ordinarily a claimant must lodge their claim within three years of first becoming aware of a defect with their hip implant, however for DePuy ASR hips this time limitation was suspended on February 28 when the Maurice Blackburn action began, and the time period only starts to run again if a claimant opts out.

Claimants do not need to opt out of the class action to be compensated and in fact claimants should ask their lawyers to make a claim for them as part of the class action.

The group’s next meeting is on August 12 at 2pm at the Lincoln Hotel, where hip recipients Helen Van Rooijen and John Daniels will speak about their experiences, what they have been able to find out about the revisionary operation, the safe blood levels for metal poisoning, and issues with living with a faulty hip or having the operation.

Other members may take the opportunity to talk about their issues.

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