Zimmer Durom Cup Lawsuit Claims Strict Product Liability

Zimmer Durom Cup Lawsuit Gets Next Green Light

Kristina Robb-Dover | May 12th, 2014

Zimmer Durom Cup Lawsuit Claims Strict Product LiabilityAfter bringing strict liability claims against the manufacturer of the Zimmer Durom Cup hip and the hospital that supplied them, an Arizona woman has learned that her case can proceed in state courts.

Federal judge Paul G. Rosenblatt of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona remanded plaintiff Myfanwy Patricia Ioli’s lawsuit to the Maricopa County Superior Court in an April 22 court order. The move was a defeat for drug manufacturer Zimmer Holdings Inc., which had maintained that under Arizona law, Arizona Spine and Joint, the hospital that performed Ioli’s double hip replacement using the Zimmer Durom Cup hip implants, could not be held liable.

Zimmer Durom Cup strict liability claims

The plaintiff alleges that the hips she acquired from Arizona Spine and Joint failed, and that both the medical provider and the company should therefore be held accountable. Her lawyers have further argued that the hospital can reasonably be held liable because Arizona Spine and Joint was the last agent in a commercial transaction involving the defective Durom Cup hip implants.

Opposing counsel for Zimmer Holdings, Inc. have countered that the hospital cannot reasonably be deemed a “seller” of the artificial hip joints and therefore cannot be held liable. They contended that while Arizona law had not directly addressed the issue of whether a hospital could be held strictly liable for alleged defects in medical devices, Arizona state courts would side with the majority of other jurisdictions that conclude hospitals are not sellers of medical devices and therefore not strictly liable for their failures.

Zimmer Durom Cup case can proceed against hospital

In his ruling Judge Rosenblatt wrote: “The Court concludes that Zimmer has not met its heavy burden of demonstrating that Arizona law clearly immunizes hospitals from strict liability under the circumstances present here. While strict liability will not be imposed on an entity that bears no causal connection to the production or distribution of a defective product, such a participatory connection is present here to the extent that the plaintiff alleges in her complaint that the Hospital was involved with the sale of the allegedly defective Durom Cups because she purchased them from the Hospital.”

In his order, the judge conceded the possibility that Ioli’s strict product liability claim against Arizona Spine and Joint might not hold up in the end; but Judge Rosenblatt also clarified that the court’s current task is not to determine the lawsuit’s merits but rather to decide whether there is a “non-fanciful possibility” that Ioli’s claim could survive a motion to dismiss under settled Arizona law (insofar as it cannot be said that Arizona Spine and Joint was fraudulently involved in the suit).