Class action against healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson put back by months
BRAD CROUCH HEALTH REPORTER
A MAJOR court case pitching hundreds of South Australians against an American multinational corporation has been put back for months after healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson lodged thousands of pages of documents.
The case involving allegedly faulty hip replacements was due to be heard in the Federal Court in Sydney on June 2 but this has been put back to March next year.
About 3000 Australians, including about 450 in South Australia, are suing over faulty hip implants.
The case has been delayed after Johnson & Johnson lodged 3000 pages of affidavits and almost 20,000 pages of annexures.
Victims complain it is “delay by avalanche”, however, their lawyers concede the case is so complex such a response, and consequent delay, is hard to avoid.
The metal ball-and-socket Articular Surface Replacement was taken off the market in 2010 after eight years and has been implanted into more than 90,000 people worldwide.
Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay US$2.5 billion — about US$250,000 per patient — to settle thousands of lawsuits in the US, however, no such offer is on the table in Australia.
In South Australia, law firms Shine Lawyers, Maurice Blackburn, Duncan Basheer Hannon and Lemprier Abbott McLeod represent about 450 people.
“The discovery process alone saw 1.8 million documents and we have had a team of 30 lawyers and paralegals working on it,” he said.
“It is enormously complicated and I can’t blame them for introducing these documents. It is unfortunate that it has been put back this long.”
The case is expected to take at least four weeks once it commences in March.
One of the complaints, diabetic grandfather Bob Perry, 70, has two of the replacement hips still in place after they were implanted within a week in 2007.
“My cobalt levels are climbing and no-one can tell me what that means — I am on constant pain killing medication and can’t walk any kind of distance without pain,” the Banksia Park man said.
“Johnson & Johnson put baby powder on my bum as a baby, Band-Aids on my knees as a kid, and now cobalt in my body. This rush of documents is delay by avalanche.”