People who developed painful complications after hip replacements have filed about 28,000 lawsuits against companies who made defective hip implants. Manufacturers have spent billions of dollars settling more than half of those cases, even as more people file new hip implant lawsuits.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury after a hip replacement, you may be eligible for compensation.
Lawsuits claim hip implant manufacturers made defective products and failed to warn the public about the risks. Metal-on-metal hip implants are at the center of these lawsuits because plaintiffs say their hip replacements resulted in complications requiring additional surgeries to correct problems and replace the devices.
People file product liability or wrongful injury lawsuits when companies sell dangerous products or fail to warn the public of the risks associated with the devices. Medical device lawyers argue that people who were promised durable, effective hip replacements ended up with devices that had high failure rates and caused complications including pain and metal poisoning.
While most lawsuits involving metal-on-metal hip implants have been resolved, nearly 14,000 hip cases were still pending across the country as of May 2018.
Multidistrict litigations (MDLs) involving at least two manufacturers of hips are still in relatively early stages. MDLs allow several lawsuits – even thousands at a time – to move more quickly and less expensively through the legal process. Lawyers representing people hurt by hip implants or attorneys representing the companies that made the devices may request lawsuits be combined into an MDL.
Lawsuits over Smith & Nephew’s BHR and R3 hips and Stryker’s LFIT V40 femoral head have only recently been combined into MDLs and a multicounty litigation (MCL) in New Jersey. Meanwhile bellwether trials over DePuy’s Pinnacle hips are still underway. Bellwether trials are test cases that can measure how juries will react to the evidence in a case. They can help determine eventual settlements.
After plaintiffs lost the first bellwether trial in the DePuy Pinnacle MDL, juries awarded verdicts to the people injured by hips in the next three trials. In March 2016, a jury awarded $502 million to five plaintiffs. Another jury awarded $1 billion to six plaintiffs in December 2016. The verdicts were later reduced under Texas’ lawsuit caps to $151 million and $543 million respectively. The third trial resulted in a $247 million verdict for six plaintiffs in November 2017. There were 9,498 lawsuits pending in the MDL in May, 2018.
In April 2017, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation combined 28 lawsuits over the company’s BHR and R3 hip implants into a single MDL in Maryland. As of May 2018, the U.S. District Court for Maryland reported there were 143 lawsuits pending in the MDL.
In April 2017, a federal panel combined 6 lawsuits over Stryker’s LFIT V40 femoral head into an MDL in Massachusetts federal court. As of May 2018, there were 271 lawsuits in the MDL. The first bellwether trial has been tentatively set for September 2019. Meanwhile, New Jersey’s State Supreme Court also combined all state court LFIT V40 lawsuits into a multicounty litigation (MCL) in Bergen County in May 2017. More than 100 cases are pending in the New Jersey MCL.
Some hip implant manufacturers have resolved thousands of lawsuits through settlement agreements in recent years. Settlement payments to some of the people who sued are still going out in some of those cases.
Biomet settled all of its M2a Magnum cases for $56 million in January 2015. Zimmer bought Biomet in 2015, and the company estimated that it would take $33.4 million to resolve pending claims in its annual report.
Johnson & Johnson, DePuy’s parent company, settled more than 8,000 lawsuits for $4 billion in November 2013. In March 2015, DePuy extended the settlements to cover an addition 1,800 claims. The estimated cost to the company was an additional $420 million.
Wright settled 1,292 claims involving its Conserve, Dynasty and Lineage implants for $240 million in November 2016. The company announced a further $89.75 million settlement in October 2017. The new agreement would settle all of the remaining 390 or so cases in an Atlanta MDL and in California state courts.
Zimmer settled almost all of its Durom Cup lawsuits in March 2016 for an estimated $314 million. There were 262 cases still pending in the MDL as of May 2018.
Most settlements only cover claimants who had qualified revision surgeries. People who did not have a revision surgery or who filed a lawsuit after the statute of limitations expired may be ineligible for some settlements.
Jury awards have ranged from the millions of dollars to more than $1 billion for a group of plaintiffs in one hip replacement trial.
If juries find a company’s actions were especially harmful, they may award the plaintiff punitive damages in addition to compensation for their injuries. In some cases, punitive damages have led to large jury awards for people hurt by faulty or defective hip implants.
However, appeals court judges may sometimes reduce the amount of large jury verdicts if the judge believes the amount ordered by the jury was excessive. Many states also have limits on the amount of punitive damages juries can award, which often forces appeals judges to reduce awards.
Faulty or defective hip implants can cause a wide variety of complications, but lawsuits tend to focus on common defects that cause serious injuries.
Current lawsuits involve people who received a hip implant in 2007 or later and suffered an injury that requires an additional, or revision, surgery to fix their problem.
Thousands of plaintiffs claim hip implant manufacturers made defective products and failed to warn the public about the risks. Metal-on-metal implants are at the center of litigation today because plaintiffs say the implants caused complications that led to painful surgeries to correct problems and replace the implants.
Five companies dominated the metal-on-metal hip implant market and have been involved in the largest hip replacement lawsuits. The majority of hip implants named in lawsuits have metal-on-metal designs.
The FDA classifies metal-on-metal hip systems as Class III (higher risk) devices, but the agency regulates them under the 510(k) premarket notification program. The program allows companies to get their products on the market without rigorous testing if they are similar enough to an already-approved product.
Most major hip implant lawsuits and settlements have involved multidistrict litigation (MDL) instead of class action lawsuits. The two legal approaches may sound similar, but have major differences.
MDLs tend to make more sense for most people bringing lawsuits against a hip implant manufacturer. They allow for differences in the types of injuries people suffer and make much of the legal process more efficient.
Metal-on-metal implants became popular throughout the 2000s, but quickly fell out of favor as reports of complications mounted, leading to recalls, lawsuits and FDA actions.
Not all metal-on-metal hip models with high complication or failure rates were recalled. Manufacturers simply removed some of them from the market.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
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