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Trial Under Way In LA Hip Joint Replacement Suit

The artificial hip socket was sold for eight years to some 35,000 people in the U.S. and more than 90,000 people worldwide. New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson stopped making the product in 2009 and recalled it the next year.

However, documents unsealed in the court case last week indicated that Johnson & Johnson officials were aware of problems with the device at least as far back as 2008.

Also, according to a deposition from a DePuy official, a 2011 company review of a patient registry concluded that more than one-third of the implants were expected to fail within five years of their implantation.

Johnson & Johnson has put aside around $1 billion to deal with the costs of the recall and lawsuits.

Last year, British experts at the world's biggest artificial joint registry said doctors should stop using metal-on-metal hip replacements after a study found that, after five years, about 6 percent of people who had used them needed surgery to fix or replace them.

That compares with just 1.7 to 2.3 percent of people who had ceramic or plastic joints.

Kelly said he will ask the jury to assess punitive damages at the end of the trial "to send a message to the defendants who failed to share with doctors what they knew."

He said that when DePuy Orthopedics learned the device they manufactured might be defective, "They acted in a manner that was indifferent."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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