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. In June 2015, a California jury awarded the plaintiff $4.5 million in the first Wright hip trial.
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. In fact, according to the National Joint Registry of England and Wales, about one in 12 implants will need to be revised in five years.
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 June 2015, there were more than 400 pending cases in MDL 2329. More people are expected to file Profemur and CONSERVE claims in federal and state courts. A California man filed a lawsuit against Wright when his Profemur R implant failed claiming the product was defective. In June 2015, the jury awarded him $4.5 million.
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.
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, Wallace had revision surgery and suffered complications from the revision surgery, including a “spontaneous dislocation” of the hip, and had to undergo additional surgery. He 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.