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Zimmer Named in US, Canadian Hip Implant Lawsuits

Nov 3, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Zimmer Inc. has been named in two lawsuits over allegedly defective hip implants. One lawsuit was filed in the US on behalf of a man implanted with Zimmer’s VerSys System. The other lawsuit, a class action filed in Canada, seeks to represent everyone in that country who has received the Zimmer Durom Cup implant.

The plaintiff in the US lawsuit received Zimmer;s VerSys System, which included a hip femoral head, in 2005. He then experienced pain, weakness and disability in the hip due to problems with the femoral head. The plaintiff was readmitted for surgery in October 2009 for replacement of the prosthesis. 

The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in New Orleans, accuses Zimmer of negligent manufacture of the device, which the plaintiff claims was unreasonably dangerous and unfit for its intended use. The plaintiff is seeking compensation for non-economic losses including medical expenses, disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress, punitive damages and interest.

The Canadian complaint alleges that Zimmer ignored signs of problems with the Durom Cup implant and allowed sales to continue in Canada without adequate warning. The complaint further alleges that the company initially began receiving complaints about problems with the Zimmer Durom Cup as early as 2007, and while they halted sales in the US in July 2008, sales were allowed to continue in Canada. Zimmer did not issue a safety notice in Canada until November 15, 2009, more than a year later.

The Zimmer Durom Cup artificial hip is a metal-on-metal implant which was designed as a more advanced form of a hip resurfacing system. Zimmer halted US sales of the Durom Cup in 2008 following complaints about device failures due to loosened components that required revision surgery. That year, Zimmer’s own estimates suggested that some doctors in the US experienced failure rates as high as 5.7 percent with the Durom Cup. However, some Zimmer Durom Cup lawsuits claim the failure rate could be as high as 30 percent.

Zimmer has said it intends to reintroduce the Durom Cup once modifications are made to the product’s warnings and instructions in the US to ensure that doctors are properly trained on the surgical techniques needed to implant the artificial hip correctly.

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