Hundreds of patients lose High Court case over allegedly ‘defective’ hip implants

In what is believed to be one of the largest “product liability” group actions in the UK, a group of 312 claimants brought High Court proceedings against manufacturer DePuy over allegations relating to the failure of metal-on-metal implants.

The four-month hearing – which centred on Pinnacle Ultamet implants – concerned the preliminary issue of “whether or not the defendant is liable to the claimant, subject to any development risk defence”.

On Monday in London, Mrs Justice Andrews ruled that DePuy is not liable to the claimants.

The contested action was brought on behalf of patients who claim to have been injured as a result of the early failure and consequent revision surgery of their metal-on-metal prosthetic hips.

Hundreds more metal-on-metal claims against a number of other manufacturers were put on hold pending the outcome of the trial.

Samantha Silver, of law firm Kennedys who acted for DePuy, said later: “The principles established in this judgment apply to all products used by consumers that come within the Consumer Protection Act.

“The decision will have significance for all manufacturers and distributors, not just those in the life sciences industry, as well as their insurers.

“It provides manufacturers with confidence that the courts can take into account the benefits and the inherent risks of certain products, for example, in cases where there is a known side effect or complication and the overall benefits outweigh the risks.

“The decision that the safety of new products should be compared to products existing at the time they are introduced to the market also safeguards the position of those developing new, potentially life-enhancing, technologies in the future.”

The legal teams representing the claimants said in a statement that they were “extremely disappointed” by the judgment.

They said: “This is a complex and lengthy judgment, the implications of which are being carefully considered, however, the impact it will have on consumer safety and the ability of consumers to get redress, cannot be underestimated.

“We are in touch with our clients to discuss what next steps could be taken.”

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