Zimmer Hip Replacement Recalls & 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.

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Fast Facts:

  • More than 700 lawsuits over Zimmer Durom Cup hip implants were combined in federal court.
  • Zimmer offered to settle Durom Cup lawsuits for $314 million in 2016.
  • The company spent $479 million to resolve hundreds of other hip lawsuits between 2008 and 2015.

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.

Status of Zimmer Hip Implant Lawsuits and Settlements

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Zimmer offered to settle most of the lawsuits over its Durom Cup implants in March 2016 for $314 million. The company had faced more than 700 lawsuits in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in a New Jersey federal court. MDLs allow several similar cases to be combined in federal court, allowing them to move more quickly and efficiently through the legal process.

In May 2016, the MDL court issued an order that all plaintiffs were required to participate in the settlement process.

Zimmer Durom Cup MDL Court Order, May 2016:

  • Set a deadline of September 15, 2016 for people to accept or reject the settlement offer
  • Those who rejected the offer were required to enter mediation, with a deadline of February 28, 2017 to schedule mediation
  • Those who rejected the settlement offer had to wait until the settlement process was complete before taking further legal actions
  • Those who rejected the settlement ran the risk of having their lawsuits dismissed

A large number of the plaintiffs were not happy with the settlement offer and resisted taking it. As of February 2018, there were 261 lawsuits still pending in the MDL.

Why People Filed Hip Implant Lawsuits

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

Claims in Zimmer Durom Cup Lawsuits:

  • Pain
  • Metallosis – metal poisoning that destroys bone and tissue in the body
  • Infection
  • Loosening

People who sued Zimmer over the Durom Cup:

Matthew and Stephanie Cristino

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. They sued Zimmer in federal court in California. Their case was later transferred to the New Jersey MDL.

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.

Accusations Against Zimmer in Hip Implant Lawsuits

People who filed Zimmerhip replacement lawsuits claim that their injuries were caused by the device maker’s negligence. One complaint states that Zimmer continued marketing the Durom Cup even after the company realized three in every 10 devices failed.

Lawsuit Allegations:

  • The company designed and marketed a defective product
  • Zimmer knew, or should have known, the Durom Cup was defective
  • Zimmer continued to make and sell the device after evidence showed it was defective
  • The company failed to warn doctors and patients of the risks of the Durom Cup

Brands of Zimmer Joint Replacements Named in Lawsuits

The Zimmer Durom cup was the only Zimmer hip implant included in the New Jersey MDL.

Zimmer acquired Biomet in 2015 for $14 billion. At the time, Biomet faced lawsuits, including another MDL, over some of its hip devices, which became part of the new company’s shared responsibility. Zimmer was also involved in an MDL over its NexGen knees. More recently, lawsuits have been expected over Zimmer’s Persona Knee implants after it recalled 11,000 of the devices in 2015.

Zimmer Biomet Joint Implants Named in Lawsuits:

  • Zimmer Durom Cup (hip implant) – MDL 2158
  • Biomet M2a Magnum Hip Implant – MDL 2391
  • Zimmer NexGen Knee – MDL 2272
  • Zimmer Persona Knee – Lawsuits currently being filed

Verdicts and Settlements in Zimmer Hip Replacement Lawsuits

Zimmer spent several years settling lawsuits over its Durom Cup implants before it went to trial. In March 2016, it sought to settle all remaining lawsuits in the New Jersey multidistrict litigation. The court ordered everyone who had filed suit to participate in the settlement or run the risk of having their case dismissed.

Timeline of Zimmer Durom Cup Litigation:

  • 2006

    Zimmer Durom Cup arrives on the market in the U.S.

  • 2007

    Dr. Lawrence Dorr warns Zimmer of high revision surgery rate among Durom Cup patients

  • 2008

    12,000 U.S. patients have received the Durom Cup

  • July 2008

    Zimmer briefly recalls all units of the Durom Cup on the market

  • October 2009

    Zimmer returns Durom Cup to market with new implanting instructions and training

  • 2010

    Zimmer discontinues the Durom Cup

  • June 2010

    U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation combines Durom Cup lawsuits into a federal MDL

  • 2010

    Zimmer sets up $47.5 million Durom Cup settlement fund, begins settling individual lawsuits

  • December 2014

    Zimmer wins first state trial over Durom Cup

  • July 2015

    Los Angeles jury awards Gary Kline $9.2 million for injuries from a Zimmer Durom Cup implant (the amount was reduced to $828,153 on appeal)

  • March 2016

    Zimmer proposes $314 million settlement for all remaining Durom Cup lawsuits

  • May 2016

    Deadline for people to register for the settlement

  • February 2017

    Deadline for people rejecting the settlement offer to schedule mediation

What the Zimmer Durom Cup Settlement Included

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

Conditions that Reduced Zimmer 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 Reduced Zimmer 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, but who did not meet certain revision surgery requirements.

Durom Cup 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

As of December 2017, more than 250 lawsuits remained unresolved.

Zimmer Hip Replacement Class Action Lawsuits

There are currently no Zimmer hip class action lawsuits in the U.S. However, there were three class actions in Canadian courts open to Canadian citizens. All three cases were settled in 2016. The deadline to file a claim was September 5, 2017.

Canadian Class Action Lawsuits over Zimmer’s Durom Cup:

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

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.

Zimmer Hip Recalls and FDA Action

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

The company released new surgical instructions, and Zimmer officials said the device would remain available in the United States. However, Zimmer discontinued the product in 2010.

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

Author

Terry Turner is an Emmy-winning, former television journalist. He is an associate member of the American Bar Association, the ABA’s Health Law group and a member of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates. He holds six certificates in Health Literacy for Healthcare Professionals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a Washington-based investigative reporter, he routinely reported on health and medical policy issues before Congress, the FDA and other federal agencies. Terry received his B.A. in Media Arts from Lyon College.


Hide Sources

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