Facing roughly 2,000 lawsuits after selling its hip-implant manufacturing operations, Wright Medical sought to settle cases. Only two lawsuits ever made it to trial ahead of the settlements, and Wright lost both of those.
Status of Wright Medical Hip Implant Lawsuits
In October 2017, Wright Medical agreed to settle all remaining hip-implant lawsuits against the company for $90 million. This followed an earlier settlement in November 2016 when the company settled more than 1,200 lawsuits over its hip implants for $240 million.
No additional lawsuits could be added to the MDL after October 18, 2017. Following the 2017 settlement, the court ordered the MDL closed in June 2018. As of September 2018, there were 189 lawsuits still pending. Wright expected to send out the final settlement payment in September 2019.
The 2017 settlement also applied to dozens of cases that were still pending in a Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding in California state court.
Wright’s hip implants were manufactured by the company’s OrthoRecon division. Wright sold OrthoRecon in 2013, but remained legally responsible for lawsuits over its hips. Wright Medical no longer manufactures hip implants.
What People With Wright Hip Replacements Sued Over
Most people who filed lawsuits over Wright hip replacements claimed that the devices released metal toxins that caused tissue damage and could cause the implants to fail. Others claimed that the devices failed prematurely.
Metallosis was blamed on wear between the metal components of the hip implants. The parts rubbing against each other released microscopic metal ions into patients’ bodies. These metal particles can destroy muscle, bone and other tissue around the implants.
John Wallace of Arizona received a Conserve implant in his left hip in 2005. In December 2011, his doctor found elevated chromium and cobalt levels in his blood. Wallace required revision surgery, which led to further complications including a “spontaneous dislocation” of the hip.
Linda Bohnenstiehl of Illinois received Conserve and Profemur hip devices in a Missouri hospital in 2008. She alleged that the Profemur device fractured at the femoral neck in 2010, causing her physical injuries, debilitation and pain and suffering. The injuries forced her to have a revision surgery.
Leon Thomas of Arkansas 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. His doctor suspected a loose hip socket, and he found elevated chromium and cobalt levels in his blood. Thomas is permanently impaired and suffers ongoing discomfort from nerve damage, drop foot and other injuries.
Accusations Against Wright Medical
People injured by Wright hip implants claim that the company knew about the risks its devices posed but did not do enough to prevent problems or to warn the public.
- Wright “concealed or suppressed” information about its implants’ safety
- The company knew or should have known of “unreasonably high risk of failure and serious side effects”
- Wright failed to adequately test the device
Wright Medical Hip Implants
Wright’s Conserve and Profemur hip devices were named in the majority of lawsuits. The MDL was limited to only Conserve hips and Profemur System components connected to certain Conserve components.
- Conserve Total Hip Implant System
- Conserve Total A-Class Advanced Metal Hip Implant System
- Conserve Resurfacing System
- Profemur System
- Dynasty hip implants
- Lineage hip implants
In February 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized lawsuits involving Conserve hip implants to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. More than 640 lawsuits over the devices would eventually be included in the multidistrict litigation (MDL).
In April 2012, the first of dozens more Wright hip lawsuits filed in California state courts were combined into a Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding (JCCP) in Los Angeles Superior Court.
MDLs and JCCPs allow parties in several similar lawsuits improve communication, reduce costs and increase court efficiency.
Verdicts and Settlements in Wright Medical Hip Implant Lawsuits
Two juries returned verdicts totaling $15.5 million against Wright in lawsuits over the company’s hip replacements. The company eventually offered $330 million through two settlements to resolve roughly 2,000 lawsuits against the company.
Wright settles the first lawsuit over its Profemur hip stem for an undisclosed amount five days before trial. Timothy Courson had claimed permanent injuries and had sought $3 million in damages.
California jury awards Alan Warner $4.5 million in first Wright hip lawsuit to go to trial. Warner claimed the Profemur device snapped while he was walking (the court later reduced the award to $1 million).
Jury awards $11 million to former ski instructor Robyn Christiansen after finding a Conserve implant caused tissue damage (the court later reduced the amount to $2.1 million).
Wright Medical settles 1,292 lawsuits in the federal MDL and the consolidated court action in California for a total of $240 million.
Wright agrees to settle all remaining hip lawsuits, roughly 600 of them in total, for $90 million. This settlement includes all people not covered in the first settlement, including people who filed lawsuits after the November 2016 agreement and those who had missed the deadline to file a lawsuit.
Judge orders the Wright Medical MDL closed after settlement.
Wright Medical is expected to make final payment to patients.
Wright Hip Replacement Class Action Lawsuits
There are currently no class-action lawsuits involving Wright Medical hip replacement implants.
Class actions are single lawsuits filed by one or a few people on behalf of a larger group. In the case of Wright hips, hundreds of people filed their own individual lawsuits. Most of these were combined in either the federal MDL in Atlanta or in the state JCCP in Los Angeles.
Early Failures Higher than Expected
Studies and reports to federal regulators have found that many Wright hip implants failed sooner or more often than expected.
A review of 92 patients who received Wright Conserve hips between 2005 and 2010 found that nearly 1 in every 5 patients needed revision surgery to correct problems with the devices. The average time between receiving a Wright hip replacement and requiring corrective surgery was just 4 1/2 years.
In 2015, the company that had purchased Wright Medical’s hip division started receiving a higher-than-expected number of reports of fractures with the Profemur. MicroPort Orthopedics recalled 10,825 of the devices.
“If the modular neck fractures, the patient may experience sudden pain, instability and difficulty walking and performing common tasks.”
The FDA declared the Profemur recall a Class I recall, the agency’s most serious type. The recall notice warned that an acute fracture of the device would require emergency surgery. It also warned that such a fracture in a Profemur hip stem could “lead to neurovascular damage, hematoma, hemorrhage, and even death.”
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.