People who developed painful complications after hip replacements have filed more than 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 had a hip replacement and suffered from one of the following complications, you may be entitled to compensation.
Number of Lawsuits More than 28,000
Plaintiff Injuries Metal poisoning, dislocation, loosening, tissue damage, severe pain, implant failure, revision surgery
Defendants DePuy, Stryker, Zimmer, Biomet, Wright, Smith & Nephew
Litigation Status 5 major settlements, more than 13,000 cases still pending
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 February 2018.
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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.
Depuy’s Pinnacle Lawsuits
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 January 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 9,414 lawsuits pending in the MDL in February 2018.
Smith & Nephew
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 February 2018, the U.S. District Court for Maryland reported there were 131 lawsuits pending in the MDL.
Stryker LFIT V40
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 February 2018, there were 202 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.
Depuy's ASR Lawsuits
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 261 cases still pending in the MDL as of February 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.
Kline v. Zimmer:
Gary Kline won a $9.2 million verdict against Zimmer when a jury believed the Durom Cup that Kline received had a design defect. Kline’s hip implant failed after 15 months. An appeals judge later reduced Kline’s award to $828,000.
Christiansen v. Wright:
Wright lost an $11 million verdict involving its Conserve implant. The plaintiff, Robyn Christiansen, proved that her metal implant caused tissue damage after six years. Her reward was eventually reduced to $2.1 million on appeal.
Aoki et al. v. DePuy:
Five plaintiffs won a joint case against DePuy in the second Pinnacle bellwether trial. DePuy was told to pay $502 million to the claimants who said their Pinnacle implants were defective. The award was later reduced to $151 million.
Andrews et al. v. DePuy:
Six plaintiffs won a $1 billion verdict in the third Pinnacle bellwether trial. They claimed the hip implants caused metal to enter their blood and tissue, causing a number of complications. The award was later reduced to $543 million under a Texas law capping jury awards.
Alicea et al. v. DePuy:
Six plaintiffs won a $247 million verdict in the third Pinnacle bellwether trial. They claimed the hip implants caused severpain and inflammation, bone erosion, tissue loss and other complications.
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.
You may be able to file a metal-on-metal hip implant lawsuit if you experienced any of these conditions:
Metallosis – Metal Poisoning
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.
Lawsuits filed against hip implant manufacturers claim:
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.
|Manufacturer||Models Involved in Lawsuits|
ASR XL Acetabular System
ASR Hip Resurfacing System
|Smith & Nephew||Birmingham (BHR) Hip
R3 Hip Acetabular System
Modular SMF Hip System (MIS Hip Stem)
Modular Redapt Revision Femoral Hip System
Emperion Hip System
|Stryker||ABG II Modular-neck Hip Stems
LFIT V40 Femoral Head (used with Stryker Accolade hips)
|Wright Medical Technology||Conserve Plus
Profemur Z Hip Stem
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.
Sulzer Orthopedics recalls 40,000 hip replacement sockets for dislocation risk
More than 2,200 people require revision surgery to replace Sulzer implants
Three women win $15.4 million verdict against Sulzer, more than 1,000 lawsuits filed
Sulzer settles 4,000 lawsuits for $1 billion ($200,000 to each plaintiff)
Zimmer temporarily recalls its Durom Cup hip component
U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidates Durom Cup lawsuits into an MDL
DePuy ASR lawsuits combined into an MDL
Lawsuits over DePuy’s Pinnacle hip implants combined in an MDL
Wright Medical, Smith & Nephew and Biomet each issue large recalls of hip implants
Lawsuits over Wright Medical’s Conserve implants combined into an MDL
Lawsuits over Biomet’s M2a Magnum implants combined into an MDL
JPML combines lawsuits over Stryker’s Rejuvenate and ABG II into an MDL
FDA strengthens approval process for metal-on-metal hips
Stryker recalls more than 42,000 LFIT V40 femoral head components
JPML combines lawsuits over Smith & Nephew BHR and R3 implants into an MDL
JPML combines first federal lawsuits over Stryker LFIT V40 femoral heads into an MDL in Massachusetts federal court. New Jersey follows suit a month later, combining state lawsuits over the device into an MCL in state court.
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.
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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