A mother of three who sued hip replacement implant manufacturer DePuy International has been awarded more than €700,000 damages by the High Court
While Gillian O’Sullivan’s injuries were “clearly not catastrophic”, they were “undoubtedly severe” and caused major disruption to her life, Mr Justice Kevin Cross found.
The injury resulted in serious continuing pain and ongoing permanent medical attention, he said.
Ms O’Sullivan’s injuries were far more severe than any other person whose case had opened before him in relation to DePuy hip replacement implants, he added.
The case ran for 10 days in the High Court and is the first to go to judgment as others have settled before the court. As a result, the award is the first made by a judge in a case over DePuy hip implants.
In her action, Ms O’Sullivan (52), of Tramore, Waterford, sued DePuy International Ltd claiming damages for negligence, breach of duty and liability for a defective product.
The claims were denied but, last October, DePuy said it did not require Ms O’Sullivan to establish the DePuy product supplied to her was defective and the case went ahead as an assessment of damages only without any admission of liability.
Ms O’Sullivan had a left hip replacement in October 2005 and a right hip replacement in May 2006. Later, she had to have further revision surgery.
Mr Justice Cross said, before her first left hip replacement operation, Ms O’Sullivan was told by a consultant it was a “once in a lifetime job” and afterwards she would have hips “like Brian O’Driscoll”.
Ms O’Sullivan said she gradually got worse and in 2007 started to experience a grinding sensation continuously in both legs. When she complained in late 2007 about her hips, she was told the “god of orthopaedics” had done the surgery.
Ms O’Sullivan had two further operations which were revisions of the earlier hip replacement operations. When she woke up from the left hip revision operation, she complained she had a severe pain in her knee but there were better results with the right hip revision operation.
The judge said Ms O’Sullivan now has significant problems and disabilities, is in significant pain, has significant limitations of movement and requires crutches.
He found 90 per cent of her past, present and future problems are referable to her hips and she will require three extra unnecessary hip replacements throughout her life.
Awarding total damages of €704,000, Mr Justice Cross allowed for general damages as well as past and future care.