People who have filed knee replacement lawsuits claim the devices loosened, became unstable and they required surgery to correct their problems. One knee implant manufacturer paid $1 billion to settle 4,000 lawsuits filed over its faulty devices.
Knee replacements are among the most common joint replacement surgeries in the U.S. With more than 600,000 knee replacement surgeries every year, even a small number of failures can affect hundreds of people. One study predicts nearly 3.5 million knee replacements will be performed every year by 2030.
Repairing complications from a defective knee implant can require surgery to repair or replace the device. This can be a costly proposition for patients who suffer knee replacement complications, running up medical bills while frequently losing income while they recover.
Thousands of people who suffered serious knee replacement complications have filed lawsuits since 2000. Newly discovered issues with newer knee replacements may result in hundreds more lawsuits in the future.
There currently is only one large, multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving knee replacements. The Zimmer NexGen Knee MDL once involved nearly 1,800 individual lawsuits, but most have been dismissed and the judge in the case has told parties on all sides to negotiate an agreement to resolve the remaining cases.
MDLs combine several similar lawsuits with similar facts and injuries. They allow cases to move more quickly through the legal process while keeping legal costs down.
In 2015, Zimmer issued a recall for all 11,000 of its Persona Knee implants in distribution at the time. Attorneys are still talking with people affected by defects with these devices about the potential for Persona Knee lawsuits. In addition, some people have pressed ahead with individual lawsuits over various knee implant models including the Persona Knee.
In 2017, more than two dozen people sued German implant maker B. Braun in Los Angeles Superior court. They claim their ceramic knee implants loosened when the cement used to attach the devices to their bones failed.
People who have experienced loosening or instability that requires surgery to fix their knee implants may be able to sue the device’s manufacturer.
Filing a lawsuit can be a complicated process. There are several things to consider before filing a claim for knee replacement implant injuries.
A lone Pennsylvania lawsuit over Zimmer’s Gender Solutions Knee spent more than 9 years working its way through the legal system.
Margo Polett received the knee in 2006. Several months later, she agreed to appear in a marketing video for Zimmer’s knee replacement devices. The video involved Polett walking on a treadmill and riding a stationary bike. During the taping, she developed problems that led to persistent pain and required multiple surgeries.
She filed a lawsuit in 2008 beginning a long series of appeals that continued through 2017.
Even after the December 2017 decision, Zimmer still had the option of appealing to the state Supreme Court.
Knee replacement lawsuits usually claim the product was defective and that the manufacturer knew or should have known about the risks, but failed to warn patients.
Knee replacement lawsuits often follow manufacturer major recalls of particular models of knee implants. Recalls will frequently highlight a problem with the design, manufacturing process, or packaging and marketing that resulted in several people experiencing the same problem with a knee implant.
|Manufacturer||Model Name||Why People Are Suing|
Loosening due to defective screws
|Arthrex||iBalance Knee||Pain and instability|
|DePuy||Attune Knee System||Instability and loosening|
|Exactech||Optetrack Knee||Excessive wear leading to premature failure|
|B. Braun (Aesculap Implant Systems)||Advanced Surface ceramic coated knees||Device failure after cement fails to adhere to bone|
In one of the largest knee implant settlements, Sulzer Medica agreed to pay $1 billion to settle roughly 4,000 lawsuits over its hip and knee implants in 2002. Zimmer purchased Sulzer (by then renamed Centerpulse) for more than $3 billion in 2003.
More recent knee implant lawsuits have not been as successful. More than 1,740 lawsuits over Zimmer’s NexGen knee were once part of the current multidistrict litigation. Bellwether trials, test cases drawn from those hundreds of lawsuits to gauge how juries will weigh the facts, went to court starting in 2015. Zimmer was able to win the early test cases.
As of November 2017, no settlement had been reached in the NexGen Knee MDL and only 329 of the lawsuits were still pending.
The trio of victories for Zimmer, along with the higher standard of evidence plaintiffs had to present, led hundreds of people to withdraw their lawsuits.
There are currently no class action lawsuits involving defective knee replacements. Class actions are not always well suited for medical device lawsuits. Usually, people will file individual lawsuits against a manufacturer over a particular device such as a knee implant. If several people sue the same company for the same defect and injuries their cases will sometimes be combined in a single court.
Manufacturer recalls of large numbers of knee implants and clinical studies of implant failures underline the potential for injuries from defective knee replacement devices.
Zimmer’s recalls of the NexGen and Persona Knee implants have involved more than 50,000 devices.
Before those high profile recalls, knee implant manufacturers issued more than 700 recalls for their devices during a recent 10 year period. Consumers Union researched recall notices companies sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 2003 and 2013.
|Knee Implant Manufacturer||Number of Recalls|
|Smith & Nephew||11|
Knee Implant Manufacturers recalls compared to the total amount of recalls
Knee implant manufacturers are legally responsible for marketing their products properly and adequately warning consumers and health care professionals about their risks. Ideally, device makers properly design and test their products before they reach consumers. They are also responsible for monitoring their products for problems after they’ve received approval.
But critics argue that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process doesn’t do enough to keep unsafe devices off the market. The agency’s Premarket Notification, or 510(k) process, determines if a proposed knee implant is equivalent to a device already on the market. If so, the new implant doesn’t have to be so thoroughly tested before approval.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
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