Kentucky Plaintiff’s Zimmer Hip Lawsuit Dismissed
U.S. District Court Judge Henry R. Wilhoit Jr. of the Eastern District of Kentucky recently awarded summary judgment to Zimmer Holdings after the defendants pointed to issues in the plaintiff’s Zimmer hip implant lawsuit. In a ruling handed down on July 16, 2014, the complaint filed by Wilson Johnson was found to lack supporting evidence.
Johnson had received a hip implant designed and manufactured by the defendants, which he alleged was defective, and required removal and replacement. Johnson had demanded compensation for his injuries, medical expenses, and related costs.
Johnson alleged premature failure
The plaintiff’s problems began on June 7, 2010, when he underwent a total left hip replacement surgery. With this type of procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged or diseased portions of the natural hip joint and replaces them with artificial components to enable movement and relieve pain. During Johnson’s procedure, he received several components designed and manufactured by the defendants. They included the Longevity Liner, Continuum Acetabular Cup, a Trabecular Metal Femoral stem and femoral head.
Although artificial hip implants are generally expected to last longer than a decade, Johnson alleges that he was forced to undergo revision surgery to replace the reportedly defective components. According to the Zimmer hip implant lawsuit, Johnson had revision surgery on June 22, 2012.
It was determined that he had suffered from six hip dislocations, a problem commonly alleged by other plaintiffs with lawsuits pending against Zimmer. In his lawsuit, Johnson claimed the defendants had failed to issue adequate warnings to him or his healthcare providers about the serious risks associated with the medical device. He also claimed the implant components were defective in design and manufacture.
Zimmer insists their design is safe
Pre-trial discovery had been scheduled to conclude this past May 8. At that time, the defendants claimed that Johnson had failed to disclose any expert witnesses, nor had he served any written discovery. Counsel for the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment with the court. In their motion, Zimmer denied any wrongdoing with regard to potential defects in design or manufacture, and they maintained that the allegation of failure to warn was without basis. The expert witnesses for the defendants backed up these claims by opining that other implant components from the lots that included Johnson’s components did not show signs of defects, that Johnson’s side effects were known to be general complications of any arthroplasty, and that Zimmer allegedly issued sufficient warnings of dislocations.
In response to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, Johnson claimed the material facts found in his complaint were sufficient evidence of his allegations. However, the Judge agreed with the defendants, ruling that “having conducted no discovery whatsoever, he would be hard pressed to have any evidence with which to properly support his response. Nor does he cite any case law which may resuscitate his claims. As such, he cannot demonstrate the essential elements of any of his claims.”
Another reason for the Judge’s decision to dismiss the case was Johnson’s failure to produce the allegedly defective components that were removed from his hip. The only way the plaintiff could provide any evidence that the devices were manufactured other than as intended is by inspecting the devices themselves. As the devices are not available for inspection, plaintiff cannot produce evidence that they were defectively manufactured,” said the Judge.
Numerous lawsuits against Zimmer still pending
Although Johnson’s lawsuit has been dismissed, Zimmer Holdings is still facing a slew of other complaints. In fact, so many plaintiffs filed complaints against Zimmer that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized federal complaints into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in June of 2010. The MDL consolidated more than 200 cases. More than 100 plaintiffs have already enjoyed favorable resolution of their cases, with over $400 million in settlements and additional funds set aside for future settlements.
- FDA, Recalls, http://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/implantsandprosthetics/metalonmetalhipimplants/ucm241770.htm
- Forbes, Will Flawed All-Metal Hip Replacements Cost J&J and Zimmer $5 Billion? http://www.forbes.com/sites/petercohan/2011/12/28/will-flawed-all-metal-hip-replacements-cost-jj-and-zimmer-5-billion/