Thousands of people have filed knee replacement lawsuits in recent years — most of which claim the devices loosened because of a design defect or other flaw.
Attorneys in Alabama filed the first lawsuit against Attune Knee Replacement manufacturer DePuy Synthes in September 2017. A steady stream of filings around the country followed. Lawyers estimate hundreds of patients may sue the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary in 2018.
There are no publicly announced Attune settlements. None of the cases has gone to trial, so there are no verdicts yet.
The Zimmer NexGen Knee Implant multidistrict litigation is currently the only active knee replacement MDL.
A federal panel combined the first 18 cases in an Illinois federal court in August 2011. There were more than 1,700 lawsuits in the MDL but most were dismissed.
In February 2018, Zimmer announced a settlement in the remaining lawsuits. The exact amount of the settlement is unknown. The company and the patients who sued agreed to keep the amount confidential. There were 260 cases still pending as of September 2018.
Though most of the recent lawsuits name DePuy and Zimmer, people have also claimed injuries from other models of knee replacements including B. Braun and Stryker.
At least 25 people sued B. Braun in a California court in 2017. All said they had to have revision surgery after their knee replacements failed.
|Manufacturer||Model Name||Why People Are Suing|
|Arthrex||iBalance Knee||Pain and instability|
|B. Braun||Advanced Surface ceramic coated knees||Loosening due to cement failure|
|DePuy||Attune Knee System||Loosening and instability|
|Exactech||Optetrack Knee||Excessive wear and premature failure|
Loosening due to defective screws
|Stryker||Duracon Unicompartmental Knee System||Pain, instability, restricted motion|
Lawsuits Claim Different Flaws Caused Loosening
People filed lawsuits over the DePuy Attune and Zimmer NexGen knees because the devices failed to attach to patients’ bones, which made the knee replacements unstable. Patients needed revision surgery to repair the loose implants.
In 2010, Zimmer recalled 68,000 NexGen Knee components, warning that the knee replacement could loosen if the device was not fully cemented or a stem was not used. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration received more than 100 reports of the knees loosening prematurely.
The company recalled another 40,000 in 2014, citing a faulty connection in the knee system. It said threads on one part were “out of specification.” Surgeons were supposed to screw a stem extension or plug into the threads, but the flaw could prevent a perfect fit. Over time, the joint could loosen.
DePuy’s Attune knee has never been recalled, but people filed lawsuits over the implants claiming tibial loosening. They said the cement failed to bond the implant’s base plate to the patient’s tibia, which is one of the bones in the lower leg.
Largest Settlement Involving Knees
One of the largest settlements involving knee replacements was a $1 billion payment in 2002. Sulzer Medica agreed to pay $1 billion to settle roughly 4,000 lawsuits over its hip and knee implants.
The Swiss company recalled 25,000 joint implants in 2001 after about 200 people reported complications with the devices. The company estimated at least 17,000 people had already received the affected implants. About 90 percent of those patients were in the U.S.
The company determined that the parts had shipped with an oily residue on the implants. It prevented bone from adhering to the devices, allowing them to loosen. The Wall Street Journal reported that 561 patients who received Sulzer knees had to have their knees replaced by the time of the settlement.
Sulzer changed its name to Centerpulse after the recall. Zimmer acquired it in 2003 for $3.2 billion.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.