Thousands of people filed lawsuits after they turned to hip implants for the promise of reduced pain and greater mobility — only to suffer complications that are far more debilitating than the conditions that led to hip replacement in the first place. Many of these claimants discovered a harsh reality: Hip device failures can cause serious long-term health and financial burdens.
Hip replacement makers are under a legal duty to design and manufacture and test properly the safety of their devices. They are also accountable for responsibly marketing their products and properly warning the public about any health risks. When they fail at or ignore those duties, the patients who suffer from their negligence may have legal claims to compensation for their injuries.
In recent years, several popular hip replacement devices have come under fire for causing serious injuries, including:
- Depuy Orthopaedics’ Pinnacle Hip Replacement System, ASR XL Acetabular System, and ASR Hip Resurfacing System
- Zimmer Holdings’ Durom Cup
- Stryker Orthopaedics’ Rejuvenate Modular and ABG II modular-neck hip stems
- Smith & Nephew’s R3 Acetabular System
- Biomet’s M2a metal-on-metal hip devices
- Wright Medical Technology’s Conserve Plus
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If you have a Stryker Rejuvenate hip, a Stryker ABG II femoral stem or if you have complications from any other brand of hip implant, you have legal options.
Rise and Fall of All-Metal Hip Replacements
As early as the 1700s, surgeons struggled to find effective solutions to painful hip joint diseases. They experimented with cutting bone to change hip alignment and later developing prosthetic devices to replace hip joints.
Their challenge with hip devices was finding materials that would be stable enough to bear body weight, provide mobility and be well-tolerated in the human body. They eventually turned to metal or ceramic balls with plastic or ceramic sockets.
During the 1990s, metal-on-metal hip replacements were promoted as more durable and offering more mobility than replacements made with other materials, like plastic. Promises of maintaining active, athletic lifestyles even helped device makers attract a younger market for their products. As many as 500,000 patients are reported to have received all-metal hip replacement devices.
Although device makers were quick to promote the claimed benefits of all metal devices, thousands received the implants before serious risks and complications were made known. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, metal-on-metal implants marketed in recent years appear to be no more effective or durable than older devices.
Some devices fail, requiring patients receive a second surgery, called revision surgery, in less than five years. Even worse, the study suggests all-metal devices may pose more problems than earlier implants. Complications such as adverse tissue reaction and metal in the bloodstream were cited as health risks for consumers and, later, as legal consequences for device makers.
Here are some of the complications from metal-on-metal devices:
- Decreased mobility and even hip joint failure
- Severe pain in the hip, groin or thigh
- Inflammation and swelling
- Loosening of the device
- Bone damage
Filing a Legal Claim
Some manufacturers – DePuy and Stryker, for example – recalled some of their hip devices and systems. But these decisions can come too late. Often by the time device makers decide to do something, thousands of people are already injured. Legal remedies, however, exist.
Many hip replacement injuries can be permanent. Some require revision surgery and related medical care that can cost tens – even hundreds – of thousands of dollars.
Coping with these injuries can also carry a high emotional toll. Discomfort resulting from device failure can immobilize patients and interfere with their ability to work and participate in other activities.
For these reasons, patients may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical Bills – including doctor’s visits, medical tests, pain and other medications, hospitalization, revision surgery, new hip replacement
- Other Compensatory Damages – including caregiving services, lost income
- Pain and Suffering – physical suffering, mental and emotional suffering, other personal limitations
- Loss of Consortium – damages to relationship with spouse
- Punitive Damages – awards to discourage similar conduct
Filing a Hip Replacement Lawsuit
If you have received a hip replacement implants, you should talk to a qualified lawyer about whether you are eligible to recover similar damages. There are a handful of things to keep in mind about filing a claim. Those include knowing that a lawsuit may bring you more compensation than a recall and knowing exactly what a product liability attorney can do for you.
Lawsuit vs. Recall
The reality is, a lawsuit may offer you more compensation than a recall. Device makers may offer compensation as part of a recall. But they will likely limit compensation to certain medical treatments and revisions. They may not address potential losses like lost wages and pain and suffering. According to some patients, DePuy only covered a fraction of revision costs under their recall, leaving injured patients to foot the rest of the bill. Talk to a lawyer about how a lawsuit may offer more compensation.
Consider talking to a lawyer about risks and benefits of joining a class-action lawsuit. A class action is a lawsuit filed collectively by a large group of people with similar claims. Class-action claimants generally have less control over their cases, including negotiating settlement terms, than individual claimants. However, these groups often have leverage to reach large settlements. Before joining a class action, consider talking to an attorney about the risks and benefits of filing your claim individually.
Find a Qualified Product Liability Attorney
A qualified product liability attorney can help you decide where to file your lawsuit. Large numbers of claims are expected in hip replacement cases. Many hip implant cases filed in federal courts are expected to be centralized to streamline procession. For instance, more than 7,200 DePuy ASR claims have been centralized in Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) No. 2197 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. This option applies to federal court cases, not state court cases.
Think about a Settlement
A qualified device attorney may be able to help you obtain a settlement. These attorneys are knowledgeable about hip replacement injuries and device makers. They can use their experience to help you make decisions like whether to file a claim, go to trial or accept a settlement.
Remember that each case is different. It is always best to speak with a qualified attorney for specific information about your legal rights and any available compensation.
Tips for Filing a Lawsuit
Whether you experienced injury or are concerned about future injuries, a product liability attorney can help you protect your rights and any future legal claims. This includes protecting your legal claims while responding to a recall. In the past, device makers have been known to use patient information obtained through recalls to limit their liability.
Here are some tips about the process of filing a hip replacement lawsuit:
- Talk to an experienced lawyer before signing anything or accepting any compensation. Device makers sometimes use recalls as an opportunity to get patients to sign waivers or accept a fixed amount of compensation. Doing either of these things may prevent you from filing a lawsuit later. So it is best to talk to a lawyer first. Keep in mind that your injuries may be permanent and require ongoing care. A lawsuit may offer a better opportunity to receive compensation for the costs of ongoing care.
- Be aware when calling a device maker’s helpline. Device makers sometimes use patient call centers to get information to limit legal claims. Before you talk to a device maker or recall call center representative, keep in mind that you may not yet know the extent of your injuries. Talk to a lawyer first to avoid saying anything that could hurt your case.
- Speak to a lawyer before turning over evidence. Also keep in mind that your physician or surgeon may try to turn over evidence in your case, including the failed hip device. In the past, device makers have reportedly paid doctors to turn over any faulty devices they remove. They may also work with doctors to obtain other medical information related to your claim. So talk to an experienced dangerous device lawyer to find out how to protect yourself when seeking medical help for your injuries.
- Consider getting a second opinion. During recalls, device makers often provide information about revision surgery and other treatment. However, their recommendations may not be appropriate for you. Consider getting a second opinion before committing to a particular treatment plan.
People Who Filed Hip Replacement Lawsuits
Several hip implants manufacturers are involved in lawsuits because of complications suffered by people who received faulty devices. These plaintiffs claim the companies made defective products and failed to warn the public about the risks.
DePuy faces nearly 11,000 lawsuits filed by people who received the ASR hip implant and another 3,000 from recipients of its Pinnacle hip. The all-metal devices were supposed to last longer than other implants on the market. Instead, they failed prematurely in thousands of people.
One of these people is Loren Kransky, a former corrections officer. He and his wife, Sheryl, filed a lawsuit against DePuy after he was implanted with the ASR and experienced “a kind of stabbing pain” that prevented him from walking and from rehabilitating after a stroke and forced him to use a wheelchair. Doctors tested Kransky’s blood and found high levels of cobalt and chromium that was poisoning him. A Los Angeles jury found that the ASR was defective in design and awarded the Kranskys $8.3 million.
Diane Pingel filed a lawsuit against Stryker Orthopaedics after she underwent five surgeries to repair tissue and bone damage caused by metal particles flaking off her Rejuvenate hip implant. During one of the revision surgeries, her femur broke, and her doctor placed a metal rod in her leg. Because she has a Rejuvenate in both hips, the other hip will also need to be replaced. She is one of a growing number of individuals who are filing lawsuits over Stryker’s Rejuvenate and ABG II modular hip implants.
In addition to lawsuits filed against DePuy and Stryker, federal cases in multidistrict litigation (MDL) are mounting against:
- Biomet, the manufacturer of the M2a Magnum hip implant (MDL – 2391)
- Wright Medical, manufacturer of the Conserve hip implant (MDL – 2329)
- Zimmer, manufacturer of the Durom Cup hip implant (MDL – 2158)