SA lawsuit against UK hip implants

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A South African medical malpractice law firm will apply for jurisdiction in the UK, to sue a hip implants manufacturer.

Durban - A South African medical malpractice law firm is set to apply for jurisdiction in the UK, where it plans to sue a British hip implants manufacturer on behalf of more than 120 claimants.

If given the go-ahead this could be one of the largest medical malpractice group action cases in that country.

For the past week, CP van Zyl Attorneys Incorporated have been hosting briefing sessions across the country where legal experts met members of the public who thought they may have been harmed by the metal-on-metal hip implant, made by Johnson & Johnson affiliate, DePuy.

Speaking in Durban on Wednesday, Sunelle van Heerden, a CP van Zyl consultant, said there were more than 120 South African claimants who had been harmed by the DePuy implants.

“We are receiving calls on an almost daily basis from patients who have been harmed by the implant and who have to undergo a second operation to replace the failed DePuy implant,” she said.

The operations were performed on more than 3 300 patients in South Africa between July 2003 and August 2010.

“DePuy admitted that the hip joints were faulty and recalled them in August 2010,” said Van Heerden.

“While they are willing to pay for another hip implant, there is a dispute about the compensation they are prepared to pay.”

She said initially only about eight cases would be taken to the UK court to establish a precedent on jurisdiction.

A ruling on this is expected in February or March.

The firm is working with an English legal team and has secured a British barrister, Hugh Preston QC, an expert litigator in the fields of medical negligence and product liability, to represent claimants in the group action in the UK.

“If the UK court finds in our favour, the rest of the cases will follow,” Van Heerden said.

Preston said the clients’ compensation would be based on their general pain and suffering, loss of income, and medical expenses – an amount previously estimated by the firm as ranging from R300 000 to R3 million. - Daily News


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