Hundreds of people filed lawsuits over complications blamed on Biomet’s M2a Magnum hip implants. The company agreed to settle most of the lawsuits for $56 million. But by late 2017, more than 470 lawsuits were still pending in federal court.
If you had a hip replacement and suffered from one of the following complications, you may be entitled to compensation.
Number of Lawsuits 2,743 filed, 476 still pending
Plaintiff Injuries Metallosis, loosening, dislocation, revision surgery
Defendants Biomet (Later Zimmer Biomet)
Bellwether Trial Date Biomet agreed to a settlement before bellwethers were set to begin in June 2015.
MDL Location Northern District of Indiana
Class-Action Status None
Litigation Status 476 cases still pending in MDL
Top Settlement $56 million (2014 to settle 2,600 lawsuits)
Most people who sued Biomet were offered $200,000 to settle their lawsuits. Some amounts differed based on when people received their implants.
The M2a Magnum was a metal-on-metal hip design, meaning its ball and socket forming the joint were both made of metal. The wear between these parts was blamed for releasing toxic metal particles into patients’ bodies, triggering serious medical complications and causing the implants to fail.
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More than 2,700 lawsuits have been filed over Biomet’s M2a Magnum hip implants. Biomet agreed to settle most of the cases in 2014. To participate, people who suffered injuries from their hip implants had to file lawsuits in state or federal court by April 15, 2014.
As of February 2018, 420 of those cases were still unresolved. They remained in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in an Indiana federal court. MDLs allow several similar lawsuits to be combined so they can move more quickly through the legal process.
The hip replacements people filed suit over involved metal-on-metal designs. Metallic parts wearing against each other released microscopic metal ions, which caused a wide variety of complications, including metallosis. Metallosis is metal poisoning that occurs when metal particles are released into the blood from the artificial joint.
Typical Complaints in Biomet Hip Replacement Lawsuits:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration received hundreds of reports of these sorts of complications from doctors and patients who used the M2a Hip implant line of products. However, the devices were never recalled.
People who sued Biomet over its M2a Magnum hip replacements claimed the company knew the devices were defective but did nothing to warn people of the risks.
Accusations in Biomet Hip Lawsuits Include:
Lawsuits combined in the Indiana MDL and settled in 2014 involved only Biomet’s M2a Magnum hips. The devices were part of the company’s lucrative M2a line of implant products first released in 1996, beginning with the M2a RingLoc.
The FDA received more than 450 adverse events involving M2a Magnum implants from patients and doctors. However, the device was never recalled.
In January 2014, Biomet agreed to settle all M2a Magnum cases for a combined $56 million. That amounted to a base award of $200,000 for each plaintiff. The Biomet hip settlement was available for cases in the federal MDL as well as state courts. People who wanted part of the settlement have to file claims in court by April 15, 2014.
While the base award was $200,000, some conditions could lower the amount a person actually received.
Reduced Amounts Under the Biomet Hip Settlement:
The settlement also capped the amount some people could receive. These amounts were far below the base amount and applied to specific conditions.
Capped Awards Under the Biomet Hip Settlement:
Biomet said it would only fund the settlement if 90 percent of the qualifying cases accepted the settlement. Plaintiffs had to submit information to the court by June 13, 2014.
Not everyone who sued agreed to the settlement and instead continued to pursue their lawsuits. In its 2015 annual report, Zimmer Biomet estimated that it would take $33.4 million to resolve pending claims.
There are no class-action lawsuits over serious complications involving Biomet hips. But as of February 2018, the multidistrict litigation was still active.
Class actions involve a single lawsuit filed by one person or a small group of people. Instead of a class action in the Biomet hip cases, people filed individual lawsuits in different courts.
The hundreds of people who sued saw their individual lawsuits combined into an MDL. This form of litigation allows the same benefit of combined resources as a class action, but other award or settlement options.
Many metal-on-metal hip replacements were cleared for sale through the FDA’s 510(k) process. The process allows a company to sell a new medical device if it can show the new product is similar to one already on the market.
In 2016, the FDA required hip implant makers to put many new metal-on-metal hip components through a more strenuous, premarket approval (PMA) process.
2016 Requirements for PMAs for Metal-on-Metal Hips:
Orthopedic manufacturer Zimmer bought Biomet in 2014 for $13.4 billion. The new company, Zimmer Biomet, became one of the leaders in the hip replacement market in 2016.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
Terry Turner is an Emmy-winning, former television journalist. He is an associate member of the American Bar Association, the ABA’s Health Law group and a member of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. He holds six certificates in Health Literacy for Healthcare Professionals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a Washington-based investigative reporter, he routinely reported on health and medical policy issues before Congress, the FDA and other federal agencies. Terry received his B.A. in Media Arts from Lyon College.
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