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Suit alleges doctor, manufacturer knew replacement knee was bad

Oct 25, 2006 |

A woman is suing a State College doctor and a prosthetic knee manufacturer, claiming devices implanted in her were known to be defective by the doctor and the manufacturer.

Camilla Hendrix, of White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., underwent double knee replacement surgery in May 1999. Dr. Kenneth L. Cherry, who owns University Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in State College, performed both surgeries using polyethylene tibial inserts made by Encore Medical Corp., based in Austin, Texas.

Ms. Hendrix began having problems with her right replacement knee in 2003, and replacement surgery led to the discovery that the post that anchors the device to the bone had broken.

She filed suit over that injury, and the case was settled.

Earlier this year, Ms. Hendrix began having problems with her left replacement knee, including swelling, excruciating pain and a “clunking sound” in her knee, according to the suit.

Dr. Cherry allegedly found that polyethylene insert had also broken, leading to a replacement operation and months of physical therapy.

The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, claims that Encore and Dr. Cherry knew or should have known that the polyethylene tibial insert was faulty because problems with it began surfacing as early as 1995.

A similar suit against Encore was filed in federal court after a state man underwent double knee replacement surgery at Centre Community Hospital in State College in 1998.

That suit was settled for undisclosed terms in May 2005, according to court records.

Ms. Hendrix’s attorney, said there have been several lawsuits against Encore and doctors who have used that brand in knee replacement surgery because of the continuing problems.

“Encore sold quite a few of these, but the epicenter of where they were installed seems to be Central Pennsylvania,” the plantiff's attorney said. “We don’t know how many more are out there.”

Dr. Cherry was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Calls to Encore Medical’s attorneys were not returned.

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