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Zimmer Hip Replacement Lawsuits

Zimmer agreed in 2016 to spend more than $300 million to settle hundreds of remaining lawsuits over its Durom Cup hip implant. Prior to that, financial documents show the company had spent a total of $479 million since 2008 to resolve Durom Cup lawsuits. It faces new lawsuits over its M/L Taper Hip implants when used with the Versys Femoral Head.

Zimmer faced the first lawsuits over its Durom Acetabular Component, more commonly referred to as the Durom Cup, shortly after it arrived on the market in 2006. The company temporarily recalled the device in 2008 after receiving reports that it was failing prematurely in patients.

More recently, Zimmer has faced lawsuits over different versions of its M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis implanted with Zimmer’s Versys Femoral Head. Those lawsuits were combined in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in October 2018.

Zimmer offered to settle most of the Durom Cup lawsuits in March 2016 for $314 million. The company had faced more than 700 lawsuits in an MDL in a New Jersey federal court.

A large number of the plaintiffs were not happy with the settlement offer and chose not to take part in it. As of September 2018, there were 135 lawsuits still pending in the Durom Cup MDL.

 

Lawsuits Claimed ‘Extreme Pain,’ Loosening and Other Failures

People who filed lawsuits said the Durom Cup caused serious complications requiring surgery to correct the problem. The device was designed to fuse to the hip socket without cement or screws, but the implant failed to fuse in some patients, causing complications.

A year after the Durom Cup arrived on the market, a doctor who worked with Zimmer warned the company of potential problems with the implant’s design.

Dr. Lawrence Dorr, an experienced surgeon and consultant for the manufacturer, told Zimmer in 2007 that a number of his patients required revision surgery. The doctor stopped using the device and notified the FDA before publicly warning other surgeons in April 2008.

In a letter to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, Dorr described problems with the device:
  • Patients exhibited classic signs of a loose implant even if X-rays did not show problems.
  • The fixation surface on the Durom Cup was not adequate.
  • Implantation technique was not the problem.

Zimmer eventually issued a temporary recall of the device in July 2008.  About 12,000 U.S. patients had received the Durom Cup.

The company said the recall was to postpone hip replacements involving the device until Zimmer could issue new implantation instructions. The FDA stated that the recall was caused by false and misleading labeling.

In October 2009, the company returned the device to market with new surgical instructions and said the device would remain available in the United States. However, Zimmer discontinued the product in 2010.

That same year, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation combined Durom Cup lawsuits into a multidistrict litigation.

Matthew and Stephanie Cristino’s case was one that was transferred to the New Jersey MDL from a federal court in California. Matthew Cristino claimed he experienced complications such as “extreme pain and weakness” following his surgery. He required multiple revision surgeries. The Cristinos claimed Zimmer was aware of a high rate of failure associated with the device but failed to warn his surgeon.

Individual, MDL and Class Action Settlements

In 2010, Zimmer set up a $47.5 million settlement fund and began settling individual lawsuits —including one filed by David and Lucinda Weaver.

Lucinda Weaver received a total hip replacement in 2007 and suffered loosening and separation of her Durom implant. She claimed that the implant was defective and “did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect.” She filed a personal injury lawsuit in California state court for damages, including medical expenses and loss of income. The Weavers reached a settlement with Zimmer in December 2010.

The company spent several years settling lawsuits before the first ones went to trial. In December 2014, Zimmer won the first state trial.

In July 2015, a Los Angeles jury awarded Gary Kline $9.2 million for his injuries. The company appealed the verdict, and the court reduced the amount to $828,153.

Then, in March 2016, Zimmer proposed a $314 million settlement for all remaining lawsuits in the New Jersey multidistrict litigation. The court issued an order in May 2016 that required all plaintiffs to participate in the settlement process or run the risk of having their cases dismissed. It set a deadline of Sept. 15, 2016, for people to accept or reject the settlement offer.

Those who rejected the offer were required to schedule mediation by Feb. 28, 2017, and they were told they would have to wait until the settlement process was completed before they could take further legal actions.

The 2016 settlement agreement set the base amount of awards for each plaintiff at $175,000. But several factors could increase or decrease the amount a person would actually receive.

Conditions that reduced settlement offers:
Duration
Awards were reduced by $20,000 to $75,000 depending on how many years a claimant had the implant. Plaintiffs who had the cup for longer received less money.
Implantation Date
Claimants who received hip implants after July 22, 2008, incurred a $25,000 reduction.
Revision
If the cup was used during a revision surgery, the award was reduced by $50,000.
Representation
Claimants who didn’t have an attorney received a 29 percent reduction.

Conditions that enhanced settlement offers:
Multiple Hips
Claimants with revision surgeries on both hips received a $75,000 enhancement.
Additional Revisions
Extra revisions boosted the reward by $50,000.
Dislocation
Dislocated cups caused a $5,000 enhancement.
Extraordinary Loss
Complications that occurred within three days of hospital discharge or that caused severe disability could further enhance rewards.
Lost Wages
Disabilities that resulted in lost wages could enhance rewards by 20 percent of a person’s income.

Some people did not qualify for the $175,000 base amount. Instead, they were offered just $25,000. This fixed award was for patients harmed by the Durom Cup who did not meet certain revision surgery requirements.

Fixed Award Qualifications
  • People who had revision surgery less than 180 days after receiving a Durom Cup
  • People who sued but had later died
  • People who missed the deadline to file lawsuits
  • Trauma or infection unrelated to the Durom Cup

Company Settles Three Class Action Lawsuits Filed in Canada

In 2016, Zimmer settled three class actions filed in courts in Canada. The deadline to file a claim was Sep. 5, 2017.

Settlement amounts ranged from $600 (Canadian dollars, equal to $470 U.S.) to $40,000 (about $31,500 in U.S. currency). The amounts were based on whether a patient required revision surgery and varied based on what complications they experienced.

In addition, plaintiffs could claim up to $2,500 (equal to about $1,968 U.S.) for out-of-pocket expenses related to the implants.

Canadian Class Action Lawsuits
Class Action Name Court Location Date Certified as a Class Action
Jones v. Zimmer GMBH et al British Columbia Sept. 2, 2011
McSherry v. Zimmer GMBH et al Ontario Sept. 24, 2014
Major V. Zimmer Inc. et al Quebec May 6, 2016

M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis, Kinectiv Technology and Versys Femoral Head

In October 2018, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation combined lawsuits over other Zimmer hip implants into a new MDL. The lawsuits targeted Zimmer’s M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis, as well as versions using Kinective Technology and the company’s Versys Femoral Head.

The devices were metal-on-metal hip implants. The Taper Hip Prostheses were made from a titanium alloy. The Versys Femoral Head was made from a cobalt-chromium alloy. Lawsuits claimed wear corrosion between the components caused trunnionosis – wear affecting the junction where the head and neck of the hip implant are joined.

Trunnionosis can release metal ions into the blood which the lawsuits claim caused metallosis and other serious complications.

The Transfer order sent the first 21 lawsuits to the New York’s Southern District and named Judge Paul Crotty as MDL judge in the case.  The MDL’s transfer order noted there were at least seven other cases pending around the U.S.

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
Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Aimee V. Hachigian-Gould
Dr. Aimee V. Hachigian-Gould Orthopedic Surgeon

16 Cited Research Articles

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