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Wright Medical Hip Implant Lawsuits

Wright Medical agreed to two settlements totaling $330 million to resolve hundreds of lawsuits over its hip-replacement implants. After the final settlement, a federal court closed the multidistrict litigation against Wright in June 2018. The company no longer makes hip implants.

Wright Medical faced roughly 2,000 lawsuits after selling its hip-implant manufacturing operations. A federal panel combined 640 of the lawsuits into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Georgia. Others were combined in state courts.

The company lost the first two trials. In November 2016, it settled more than 1,200 lawsuits for $240 million. In October 2017, Wright agreed to settle all remaining hip-implant lawsuits against the company for $90 million.

The second settlement covered plaintiffs who had not been allowed into the first settlement. This included people who filed lawsuits after the November 2016 agreement and those who had missed the deadline to file a lawsuit.

No additional lawsuits could be added to the MDL after Oct. 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.

The majority of lawsuits named Wright’s Conserve and Profemur hip devices. The MDL was limited to only Conserve hips and Profemur System parts related to certain Conserve components. But other models were named in individual lawsuits.

Wright hips named in lawsuits:
  • 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
Suffering complications from a Wright Hip Replacement? Get a Free Case Review

Hip Failure Rate Higher than Expected

Studies and reports to federal regulators have found many Wright hip implants failed sooner or more often than expected.

A 2016 review published in The Open Orthopaedics Journal found a high failure rate among patients who received Wright Conserve hips. The study looked at 92 patients who received a Conserve hip between 2005 and 2010. It 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 task.”

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Oct. 2, 2015

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.

People filed their lawsuits based on the failure of these hips and the complications that occurred as a result.

Lawsuit Examples
John Wallace
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
Linda Bohnenstiehl of Illinois received Conserve and Profemur hip devices in a Missouri hospital in 2008. She claimed 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
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’ lawsuit claimed he was permanently impaired and suffered ongoing discomfort from nerve damage and other injuries. 

Juries Award $15.5 Million, Wright Offers $330 Million in Settlements

Two juries returned verdicts totaling $15.5 million against Wright in lawsuits over the company’s hip replacements. The back-to-back losses appear to have motivated the company to offer up $330 million through two settlements to resolve the remaining cases.

Timeline of Verdicts and Settlements
  • November 2013
    Wright settled the first lawsuit over its Profemur hip stem for an undisclosed amount five days before trial. Plaintiff Timothy Courson had claimed permanent injuries and had sought $3 million in damages.
  • June 2015
    A California jury awarded Alan Warner $4.5 million in the 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.
  • November 2015
    Jury awarded $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.
  • November 2016
    Wright settled 1,292 lawsuits in the federal MDL and the consolidated court action in California for a total of $240 million.
  • October 2017
    Wright agreed to settle roughly 600 remaining hip lawsuits for $90 million.
  • June 2018
    A judge closed the Wright MDL, barring new lawsuits.
  • September 2019
    Wright estimated it would make the final payment to patients by this date.

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
Edited By
Medically Reviewed By
Dr. John A. Daller
Dr. John A. Daller American Board of Surgery

18 Cited Research Articles

  1. Bellon, T. (2018, June 25). Federal Judge Closes Wright Medical Hip Implant MDL After Settlement. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/products-wright-medical/federal-judge-closes-wright-medical-hip-implant-mdl-after-settlement-idUSL1N1TR20C
  2. Eslinger, B. (2015, September 25). $4.5M Wright Hip Implant Verdict Cut to $1M by Calif. Judge. Retrieved from https://www.law360.com/articles/707545/4-5m-wright-hip-implant-verdict-cut-to-1m-by-calif-judge
  3. Healio. (2016, November 3). Wright Medical Technology Enters Into Settlement Agreement in Metal-on-metal Hip Litigation. Retrieved from http://www.healio.com/orthopedics/hip/news/online/%7Ba4ad9dac-4db9-46b7-a029-7a00ffbb1f55%7D/wright-medical-technology-enters-into-settlement-agreement-in-metal-on-metal-hip-litigation
  4. McGlamry, P. (2016, November 2). Pope McGlamry: Plaintiffs' Leadership Counsel Announce a Settlement Program for Wright Medical Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants. Retrieved from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/pope-mcglamry-plaintiffs-leadership-counsel-announce-a-settlement-program-for-wright-medical-metal-on-metal-hip-implants-300356297.html
  5. Salvatore, C. (2016, September 1). Metal Hip Patient Asks 11th Circ. To Affirm $2M Defect Win. Retrieved from https://www.law360.com/articles/835657/metal-hip-patient-asks-11th-circ-to-affirm-2m-defect-win
  6. U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia. (n.d.). In Re: Wright Medical Technology, Inc., Conserve Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation. Retrieved from http://www.gand.uscourts.gov/12md2329
  7. U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia Macon Division. (2013, October 11).Civil Action: No. 5:12‐CV‐173 (CAR) Order on Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgement. Retrieved from https://ecf.gamd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2012-00173-58-5-cv
  8. U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri Eastern Division. (2014, January 29). Case No. 4:13-CV-853 (CEJ) Memorandum and Order. Retrieved from https://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/missouri/moedce/4:2013cv00853/126758/36
  9. Judicial Council of California. (n.d.). Civil Case Coordination Proceeding (JCCP) Log; JCCP 4710. Retrieved from: http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/CivilCaseCoord_2005toPresent_JCCPLog.pdf?1512068784467
  10. Wasserman, E. (2015, November 30). Wright Medical Slapped with $11M Verdict in Bellwether Case Over Metal Hip Implant. Retrieved from http://www.fiercebiotech.com/medical-devices/wright-medical-slapped-11m-verdict-bellwether-case-over-metal-hip-implant
  11. Wright. (2013, June 19). Wright Medical Group, Inc. and MicroPort Scientific Corporation Enter Into Definitive Agreement Under Which MicroPort Will Acquire Wright’s OrthoRecon Business. Retrieved from http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=129751&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1831451
  12. Wright. (2016, November 2). Wright Medical Group N.V. Announces Entry Into Metal-on-metal Hip Litigation Settlement Agreement. Retrieved from http://ir.wright.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=129751&p=RssLanding_pf&cat=news&id=2218769
  13. Siegel, D. (2015, June 12). Plaintiffs Awarded $4.5M in First Wright Hip Implant Product Liability Trial. Retrieved from http://blog.cvn.com/breaking-plaintiffs-awarded-4.5m-in-first-trial-over-wright-hip-implants
  14. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. (2017, October 18). In Re: Wright Medical Technology, Inc., Conserve Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation; Order. Retrieved from http://www.gand.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/wsd2329_doc2022.pdf
  15. Mogensen, S.S., et al. (2016, March 29). High Re-Operation Rates Using Conserve Metal-On-Metal Total Hip Articulations. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4814723/
  16. FDA.gov. (2015, October 2). PROFEMUR Neck Varus/Valgus CoCr 8 Degree, Part number PHAC 1254 by MicroPort Orthopedics: Class I Recall - Unexpected Rate of Fractures After Surgery. Retrieved from https://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112164121/http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm465529.htm
  17. FDA.gov. (2015, October 2). MicroPort Orthopedics Inc., PROFEMUR Neck Varus/Valgus CoCr 8 Degree, Part number PHAC 1254. Retrieved from: https://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170112083746/http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/ListofRecalls/ucm465501.htm
  18. 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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