Wright Medical Technology’s CONSERVE line of metal hip implants and its Profemur Z Stem have led to a number of lawsuits after patients experienced complications.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. receive hip replacement devices based on promises of improved mobility and quality of life. But some of these devices, including several implants manufactured by Wright Medical Technology Inc., have been linked to quite the opposite. Many Wright hip implant recipients have come forward, alleging that the devices have caused debilitating injuries and substantial pain and suffering.
Some recipients of Wright’s Profemur hip replacement system allege their devices failed prematurely and created the need for more surgery. Other consumers have alleged that the defective design of metal-on-metal devices from Wright’s CONSERVE product line led to early device failure and the release of metal debris into the body.
The Tennessee-based device maker currently faces scores of personal injury lawsuits from people across the country who allege injuries such as metal toxicity, infections, and bone and tissue damage.
Treating these types of injuries is usually very painful and costly and may involve undergoing multiple surgeries. If you or a loved one has suffered injury from a Wright hip device, consider talking to an experienced product liability attorney about legal options that can help ensure you’ll receive needed medical treatment.
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Status of Wright Hip Lawsuits
In February 2012, a judicial panel centralized all federal product liability lawsuits involving CONSERVE hip implants. Judge William S. Duffey Jr. presides over the litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Shortly after the cases were centralized into Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) No. 2329, the parties agreed that the MDL would be limited to cases concerning issues with the metal-on-metal design of Wright’s CONSERVE Total Hip Implant System, CONSERVE Total A-Class Advanced Metal Hip Implant System, and CONSERVE Resurfacing System.
According to an April 2012 court order, people with claims involving Wright’s Profemur System may also find their cases transferred to MDL No. 2329. However, the court ordered that those cases will only be transferred if the injuries relate to problems with the metal-on-metal design and involve a Profemur System that was connected to a CONSERVE Total Hip or a CONSERVE Total A-Class Advanced Metal.
Although they aren’t included in MDL 2329, plaintiffs alleging neck failure in Profemur devices, rather than metal-on-metal issues, can still consider filing claims in federal or state court, outside of the MDL.
In November 2013, Wright reportedly settled a case alleging premature failure of a Profemur hip device for an undisclosed amount. The case was settled a few days before it was scheduled to go to trial in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. That same month, DePuy Orthopaedics settled thousands of lawsuits over its ASR hip implant for $2.5 billion.
Like the Wright CONSERVE cases, DePuy ASR cases were also centralized in a federal MDL and involved complaints about metal-on-metal device failure. Although the CONSERVE litigation has not reached same size as the DePuy litigation and it remains to be seen whether Wright will also reach substantial settlements, the allegations are similar to ASR claims. Like ASR claimants, CONSERVE plaintiffs also allege that the metal-on-metal design is defective and that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn about the device’s dangers.
As of January 2014, there were more than 70 pending cases in MDL 2329. More people are expected to file Profemur and CONSERVE claims in federal and state courts.
How We Can Help
Drugwatch offers information and support to people who have been injured by devices like Wright’s hip implants. If you or a loved one has been injured, you can find information about hip injuries and resources on our website. Our Patient Advocates are also available seven days a week to talk about your medical and financial hardships and to offer free advice on how to cope.
Patient Advocates can also help if you are interested in filing a potential legal claim. They can help put you in touch with experienced hip device lawyers to guide you through the legal process.
Why Should You File A Wright Hip Lawsuit?
Hip devices have gained popularity as manufacturers have claimed the devices offer increased mobility, comfort and reliability. But when these devices fail or otherwise have design flaws, they can cause years of debilitating pain and costly medical bills.
Unfortunately, thousands of people are discovering too late that some device manufacturers have overstated the benefits of their devices. Even worse, manufacturers may have not done enough to warn doctors and consumers about device failure risks and complications.
In 2013, after ordering several metal-on-metal hip device makers to perform post-market safety studies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alerted surgeons to potentially grave dangers linked to the implants. The FDA warned that metal release from the devices could cause soft tissue damage, leading to “pain, implant loosening, device failure and the need for revision surgery.” It also warned that metal ions released into bloodstream could cause dangerous “systemic reactions” elsewhere in the body.
Wright’s CONSERVE hip implants have been linked to complications from metal device components rubbing against each other and releasing metal particles into the body. In the case of Profemur implants, injured consumers have complained that modular components don’t provide proper support for the hip implants, leading to fractures and device failure.
Patients who have been injured by defective hip implants often experience, not only pain, but also life-threatening infections and inability to walk. They may also develop heart, neurological, psychological, kidney and thyroid problems. In addition, they frequently become unable to work and have trouble paying their bills and meeting other financial obligations.
Many injured people file personal injury lawsuits to recover lost wages and medical expenses. For many, filing a lawsuit also offers the best opportunity to gain peace of mind that they’ll have enough resources to afford ongoing medical care and to provide for their families.
People Who Filed Wright Hip Lawsuits
In 2009, a Georgia man, Timothy Courson, underwent surgery to replace his right hip. He received a Profemur hip system manufactured by Wright Medical. In 2011, the implant broke while he was walking at work. He was admitted to a hospital where he underwent revision surgery to replace the defective implant by removing the device neck fragments and replacing the broken prosthesis.
Wright Medical sent an agent to deliver a device specifically designed to extract the broken neck of the prosthesis. The agent met with Mr. Courson’s doctor and was also present for the surgery. But during the surgery, the extraction device failed, causing Mr. Courson further injury and requiring him to undergo a more complex surgery to have his femur removed.
In 2012, Mr. Courson filed a lawsuit against Wright Medical in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. He alleged that Wright was responsible for causing him permanent injuries, including severe injuries to his respiratory system, and ongoing pain and mental anguish. He sought more than $3 million in damages, including the costs of incurred and future medical expenses and lost wages. His wife also filed a loss of consortium claim. The case settled for an undisclosed amount in 2013.
Another man, John Wallace of Arizona, sued Wright Medical in 2012. He had received a CONSERVE implant in his left hip in 2005. In December 2011, he was found to have elevated chromium and cobalt levels.
According to his complaint, when Mr. Wallace underwent revision surgery in April 2012, his doctor found:
- severe metal-on-metal reaction in the entire hip joint and spreading to other areas,
- a “large fluid filled cyst,”
- a substantial amount of “chalky white, metallic-type fluid,” and
- “a great deal of chalky, greenish-white synovial fluid.”
A couple of days later, Mr. Wallace suffered complications from the revision surgery, including a “spontaneous dislocation” of the hip, and had to undergo additional surgery.
He alleges that the CONSERVE implant has caused him “severe physical and mental pain and emotional distress; economic loss, which includes but is not limited to, hospital, medical, rehabilitation and other expenses; and loss of quality of life.” He also alleges that Wright “concealed or suppressed” information about the device’s safety, including its knowledge of “unreasonably high risk of failure and serious side effects” from the metal-on-metal device.
The lawsuit is pending in MDL 2329 in Georgia.
Some other people who filed hip lawsuits against Wright include:
- Linda Bohnenstiehl of Illinois, who was implanted with CONSERVE and Profemur hip devices in a Missouri hospital in 2008: She alleges that the Profemur device fractured at the femoral neck in 2010, causing her physical injuries, debilitation and pain and suffering, as well as creating the need for revision surgery. She filed a lawsuit against Wright in Illinois state court. The case was later removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, where it is now pending.
- Leon Thomas of Arkansas, who received a CONSERVE Total Hip System in 2006: He began experiencing severe pain in his left hip and groin in 2011 and was forced to have revision surgery on his left hip after his doctors suspected a loose hip socket and found elevated chromium and cobalt levels in his blood. He is permanently impaired and suffers ongoing discomfort from nerve damage, drop foot and other injuries. He filed suit against Wright in 2012. His case is pending in MDL 2329.
People injured by the hip devices claim Wright Medical:
- Failed to properly design and adequately test its devices;
- Manufactured defective devices;
- Improperly marketed and misrepresented the devices as safe and durable despite knowledge of serious side effects and unreasonable failure rates; and
- Failed to adequately warn or disclose information to patients and surgeons regarding risks such as premature device failure, bone and tissue damage, and systemic reactions.
Injured plaintiffs allege that Wright knew about the risks before they received their implants. If Wright had provided them and their doctors with accurate information, they could have chosen other treatment options. In many cases, they are now left with more debilitating injuries than the conditions that led them to undergo hip replacement in the first place.
If you or a loved one also suffers from injuries caused by defective hip implants, contact a Drugwatch Patient Advocate now to learn more about resources that may help.