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Smith & Nephew Hip Replacement Lawsuits

People from across the U.S. have filed lawsuits over several models of Smith & Nephew’s hip-replacement implants. More than 400 of those lawsuits have been combined in a major federal litigation and more lawsuits are expected to be added to it.

UPDATE: As of September 2018, the number of lawsuits involving Smith & Nephew hip replacements was still growing. Drugwatch’s legal partners are still accepting Smith & Nephew hip cases.

People have reported higher-than-normal adverse events with several Smith & Nephew hip implant models. In 2017, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation combined several lawsuits over Smith & Nephew’s Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) hip implants in a Maryland federal court.

Smith & Nephew issued a field-safety notice on its BHR implants in 2015, saying the devices posed a risk of dislocation, fractures and other complications that could require surgery to correct. In addition, the UK-based company recalled its R3 Acetabular Hip Systems in 2012 and its Modular SMF and Modular Redapt Revision in 2016, over issues serious enough to spark more potential lawsuits.

Status of Smith & Nephew Hip Replacement Lawsuits

Lawsuits over Smith & Nephew’s BHR hip implants are in the very early stages. There have been no trials, verdicts or settlements in the BHR cases yet. Attorneys are still taking cases and considering options for people affected by Smith & Nephew’s Modular SMF and Modular Redapt Revision Femoral Hip following recalls of those devices in 2016.

The first 28 lawsuits over Smith & Nephew’s Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) hip implants were combined in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Maryland federal court in April 2017. As of September 2018, a total of 442 lawsuits were pending in the MDL.

MDLs allow consolidating several similar lawsuits to pool resources and reduce duplication. This allows lawsuits to move more quickly through the legal process.

Suffering from Smith & Nephew hip replacement complications? Get a Free Case Review

Smith & Nephew Hips Named in Lawsuits

Smith & Nephew hip implants named in lawsuits have been the subject of recalls or reports of serious complications such as loosening, fractures or the need for revision surgery. At least five models have been the subject of individual lawsuits since 2013.

Smith & Nephew Hip Model Reported Problems
Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) System
Infections, fractures, dislocation, metallosis, pseudo-tumors and other issues requiring revision surgery
R3 Acetabular System
Reports of loosening, pain, device failure, infection, metal sensitivity and dislocation associated with the device
Modular SMF
“Higher than anticipated complaint and adverse event trend”
Redapt Revision Femoral System
“Higher than anticipated complaint and adverse event trend”
Emperion Hip System
Reports of failures resulting in fractures and need for revision surgery

Why People have Sued Over Smith & Nephew Hips

People who have filed hip replacement lawsuits against Smith & Nephew claim the complications they suffered were due to the devices’ design.

The implants named in lawsuits are metal-on-metal hips. That means a metal ball fits into a metal socket to form the replacement joint. Wear caused by these two metal parts rubbing against one another releases microscopic amounts of metals that can lead to serious complications from damage to the body to implant failure.

Injuries Claimed in Smith & Nephew Hip Lawsuits
  • Device loosening
  • Dislocation of the implant
  • Metallosis or metal poisoning
  • Additional surgeries

Accusations Against Smith & Nephew in Hip Replacement Lawsuits

People who have filed lawsuits over Smith & Nephew hips claim the company designed and marketed defective implants when they should have known about problems with their products.

Accusations in Smith & Nephew Lawsuits
  • The company designed and sold a defective device
  • Smith & Nephew knew or should have known about problems with its hip implants
  • The company failed to warn the public about risks associated with a defective device

Verdicts and Settlements in Smith & Nephew Lawsuits

While Smith & Nephew settled some of the individual lawsuits over the R3 Acetabular Hip System, other lawsuits remain in the early stages of a national litigation.

The MDL in Maryland involves lawsuits from across the U.S. and has the potential to include a large number of new lawsuits in the months to come.

Timeline of Smith & Nephew Recalls and Lawsuits
  • June 2012
    S&N recalls 4,000 R3 Acetabular Hip Systems in the U.S. after reports of failures and complications
  • 2013
    First lawsuits over S&N R3 Acetabular Hip Systems are filed, S&N quietly settles most R3 cases
  • November 2016
    S&N recalls 2,000 Modular SMF and Modular Redapt Revision Femoral Hip Systems
  • December 2015
    S&N annual report shows the company set aside $203 million for lawsuits it expected to be filed against the company
  • December 2016
    S&N annual report lists $147 million in liabilities for claims against the company's metal-on-metal hip replacements
  • February 2017
    8 people injured by S&N hips ask a federal panel to combine their lawsuits into an MDL
  • April 2017
    U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation combines 28 lawsuits over the Smith & Nephew BHR system into an MDL
  • September 2018
    Smith & Nephew MDL included 442 pending lawsuits

In 2007, Smith & Nephew paid $28.9 million to the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve an alleged kickback scheme in which it paid doctors to use its products.

In 2014, Smith & Nephew settled another case with the federal government for $11.3 million. The “whistle-blower” lawsuit claimed the company had sold Malaysian-made implants to the U.S. government while claiming the devices were made in America.

Smith & Nephew Class Action Lawsuits

There are currently no class action lawsuits over Smith & Nephew hip implants. Problems with medical devices are usually handled through individual lawsuits.

If enough people file lawsuits over similar problems, their attorneys will sometimes seek to have the cases combined into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDLs, like class actions, allow plaintiffs to combine their resources. They also have other benefits in medical device cases.

Some Differences between MDLs and Class Action Lawsuits

Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)
  • U.S Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determines if several, similar lawsuits can be combined in a single MDL
  • MDLs can only be tried in federal courts (though some states have similar consolidated lawsuit methods
  • Each plaintiff is likely to see very large settlements or verdicts if they prevail in court
  • Settlement amounts or jury awards may vary depending on the plaintiffs’ individual injuries
Class Action Lawsuits
  • Court considers “class certification” to determine if lawsuit can be a class action
  • Class actions can be filed in state or federal court
  • Amount of any potential award must be so small it would not be worth pursuing an individual court case
  • Everyone who joins the class action receives a proportionate share awards or settlements

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

Terry Turner
Written By Terry Turner Writer

Terry Turner has been writing articles and producing news broadcasts for more than 25 years. He covers FDA policy, proton pump inhibitors, and medical devices such as hernia mesh, IVC filters, and hip and knee implants. An Emmy-winning journalist, he has reported on health and medical policy issues before Congress, the FDA and other federal agencies. Some of his qualifications include:

  • American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates member
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Literacy certificates
  • Original works published or cited in Washington Examiner, MedPage Today and The New York Times
  • Appeared as an expert panelist on hernia mesh lawsuits on the BBC
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11 Cited Research Articles

  1. Associated Press. (2012, June 1). Smith & Nephew Withdraws Hip Device Component. Retrieved from http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-smith-nephew-withdraws-hip-device-component-2012jun01-story.html
  2. Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration. (2012, June 13). Metal Liner Components of R3 Acetabular System. Retrieved from http://www.tga.gov.au/safety/alerts-device-r3-acetabular-metal-liner-120613.htm
  3. Cohen, D. (2012). How Safe Are Metal-on-metal Hip Implants? Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e1410
  4. Hirschler, B. (2012, June 1). Smith & Nephew Pulls Metal-on-metal Hip Component. Retrieved from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-06-01/lifestyle/sns-rt-us-smithnephew-hipbre85010j-20120601_1_metal-on-metal-traditional-implants-smith-nephew
  5. Smith & Nephew. (n.d.). R3. Retrieved from http://www.smith-nephew.com/us/professional/products/all-products/r3-acetabular-system/
  6. Smith & Nephew. (2012). Hazard Alert: Metal Liner Components of the R3 Acetabular System. Retrieved from http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/hot/RecallActionNoticesNew/SmithAndNephewR3HipImplantsMetalLinerHazardAlert.pdf
  7. U.S Food and Drug Administration. (2017, January 4). Class 2 Device Recall Modular REDAPT Hip Systems. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfRes/res.cfm?ID=151502
  8. Stride, M. (2013, February 19). Smith & Nephew Sued Over Painful Hip Replacement. Retrieved from https://www.law360.com/articles/416588/smith-nephew-sued-over-painful-hip-replacement
  9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2010, December 21). Warning letter. Retrieved from http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20161022083422/http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2010/ucm238125.htm
  10. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2017, January 4). Class 2 Device Recall Modular Redapt(TM) Hip Systems. Retrieved from http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfRes/res.cfm?ID=151502
  11. U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. (2018, September 17). MDL Statistics Report - Distribution of Pending MDL Dockets by District. Retrieved from http://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/Pending_MDL_Dockets_By_District-September-17-2018.pdf
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