Wright Medical Settles Conserve, Dynasty, Lineage Hip Implant Lawsuits
On Nov. 2, Wright Medical announced a $240 million hip replacement settlement that resolves 1,292 lawsuits filed over the Conserve, Dynasty or Lineage metal-on-metal hip implants. Plaintiffs in the litigation allege that the hip implants led to complications, such as pain, swelling and metal poisoning (metallosis) led to an early revision surgery, which is when the implant is surgically removed. The settlement offers $170,000 to each claimant suing over the Conserve and $120,000 to each claimant suing over the Dynasty or Lineage hip implant.
Parker Waichman LLP personal injury attorneys are well-versed in the metal-on-metal hip implant litigation involving various manufacturers, including Wright Medical. The firm represents numerous clients in metal hip replacement lawsuits and continues to offer free legal consultations.
According to the announcement, Wright will be paying for the settlement through $180 million cash on hand. The remaining $60 million would be funded through insurance recoveries. The settlement includes hip replacement lawsuits filed into the Wright Medical Conserve multidistrict litigation (In Re: Wright Medical Technology, Inc., CONSERVE® Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2329) as well as lawsuits consolidated in California state court (In re: Wright Hip System Cases, Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4710).
The Wright Medical Conserve hip system consists of the Conserve Femoral Surface Replacement, the Conserve Plus Total Resurfacing Hip System, the Conserve Total A-Class Advanced Metal and the Conserve Total Hip System.
Plaintiffs involved in either the MDL or the California litigation can opt-in to the settlement if they underwent a revision surgery within eight years of implantation. The settlement agreement is contingent upon 95 percent of eligible plaintiffs opting-in. If plaintiffs received a bilateral hip replacement, they can count as two claims so long as both hips meet eligibility requirements on their own.
Wright Medical announced the settlement during the third quarter, and reported a net loss of $52.7 million, or 51 cents per diluted share.
Plaintiffs suing over metal-on-metal hip implants similarly allege that they suffered injuries and complications stemming from the metal-on-metal design of the hip implant, which allegedly causes metal particles to be released into the body when the surfaces of the implant rub against one another. Allegedly, this can lead to a host of problems such as tissue death, pain, swelling, difficulty walking and metallosis.
Wright Conserve Hip Replacement Lawsuits
Federal lawsuits alleging injuries from the Wright Medical Conserve metal-on-metal hip implants were transferred to a federal multidistrict litigation in 2012. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized Conserve lawsuits to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia before U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey. The Conserve MDL was the third MDL established over metal-on-metal hip injury claims, Parker Waichman notes.
Wright Medical has also faced personal injury lawsuits over its Profemur metal hip replacement.
MDLs are a type of mass tort that bring similar lawsuits together in one court. One judge presides over the litigation. Although the claims are brought under one court, lawsuits in an MDL remain separate from one another. It is not the same as a class action lawsuit. The purpose of an MDL is to streamline complex litigation and make proceedings more efficient, as it avoids duplicate discovery. The first several lawsuits in an MDL to be tried are referred to as “bellwether cases”; they are the first to be heard before jurors and cases selected as bellwether cases represent most of the litigation. The outcome of a bellwether trial can have important implications for the rest of the litigation. For example, a metal hip manufacturer may be more inclined to a settlement if jurors award large verdicts to the plaintiff.
Wright Medical was hit with an $11 million verdict in the first bellwether case that went to trial. The verdict consisted of $10 million in punitive damages, which are awarded when jurors feel that the liable party should pay extra as punishment. Punitive damages are meant to hold parties liable and discourage similar behaviors from occurring in the future. The punitive damages were later reduced to $1.1 million. The $1 million in compensatory damages, however, was unaltered.
The first bellwether trial involved a lawsuit that was filed in 2013. The plaintiff was a woman who was implanted with the Conserve in April 2006 and underwent revision surgery after only six years. According to her lawsuit, surgeons discovered fluid buildup, dead tissue and tissue damaged by the presence of metal debris when removing her failed implant. The plaintiff, who had been a ski instructor for over 47 years, alleges that the Wright hip implant complications impeded on her quality of life and caused financial burdens. She alleges that Wright failed to warn her or her doctors about the risks associated with the Conserve hip implant.
In awarding the verdict, the jury found Wright’s actions to be willful and malicious, finding that the company was intentionally fraudulent and showed a knowing and reckless indifference towards the plaintiff and others in a similar position. The Conserve metal-on-metal hip implant was found to be defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous.
Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement Lawsuit Background
Wright Medical is not the only manufacturer to face litigation over metal-on-metal hip implants. In fact, the devices first came under public scrutiny when DePuy Orthopedics issued a worldwide recall for its ASR hip implants in 2010. The metal-on-metal hip replacements were recalled because they were failing at a higher rate than expected. DePuy subsequently faced thousands of personal injury lawsuits. Stryker Orthopedics has also been involved in metal-on-metal hip implant litigation following the recall of its ABG II and Rejuvenate hip implants.
Metal-on-metal hip replacements use all-metal surfaces, and were thought to be more suitable for younger, more active patients when they were first released. Throughout the years, however, there have been concerns about the devices shedding metal debris into the body if the surfaces of the implant rub together. Hip replacements are expected to last 10 to 15 years, but plaintiffs in the hip implant litigation allege that they had to undergo revision surgery much sooner.
Legal Help for Wright Medical Conserve Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant Recipients
Parker Waichman has had years of experience representing clients in numerous metal-on-metal hip implant lawsuits. The firm continues to offer free legal case evaluations to anyone with questions about filing a lawsuit over the Wright Medical Conserve or another metal-on-metal hip replacement. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).