A Rhode Island man has filed suit against DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson, claiming that his implanted DePuy Pinnacle hip device allegedly caused him to develop elevated cobalt and chromium ion levels in his bloodstream.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff also claimed he had suffered several other complications due to the Pinnacle’s defective design, including severe pain and weakness. It was alleged by the plaintiff that DePuy knew of the risks associated with the Pinnacle hip implant device, yet failed to disclose this crucial information to the public.

Continually elevated levels of metal ions in the blood, also known as cobalt and chromium hip poisoning, is a serious complication that can develop for those implanted with a metal-on-metal (MoM) hip device. Cobalt and chromium hip poisoning occurs when corrosion of a hip implant inside the body causes microscopic metal debris to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream.

Slightly elevated metal ion levels are normal for patients with MoM hip implants; however, continually elevated cobalt and chromium ion levels in the blood stream are usually an indicator of cobalt and chromium hip poisoning, which is detected by a metal toxicity blood test.

“If cobalt and chromium ion levels are abnormally high in a patient’s first metal toxicity blood test, it is recommended that an additional blood test be administered in 3 months to measure metal ion levels again,” commented Daniel Nigh, a cobalt and chromium hip poisoning lawyer with the Levin Papantonio law firm. “If several metal toxicity blood tests show high metal ion levels in the blood, there could potentially be cobalt and chromium hip poisoning.”

In addition to the recently-filed Pinnacle lawsuit, DePuy Orthopaedics has also faced scrutiny over their recalled DePuy ASR hip implant device. In late November, the company agreed to pay $2.475 billion to settle a number of of DePuy ASR lawsuits for plaintiffs who received a revision surgery on their DePuy ASR hip implant device before August 31, 2013.

Krysta is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @KrystaLoera.