As other plaintiffs anxiously wait for the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to decide if it will centralize the growing number of hip replacement lawsuits pending in the federal court system over debilitating damage from the Zimmer M/L Taper with Kinectiv and Versys femoral head, a Pennsylvania woman will get her day in court July 31 to take the medical device company to task for not prioritizing patient safety.
Marilyn Adams filed the complaint in February 2017 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Adams alleges that Zimmer failed to properly test its hip replacement components, including the M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis, before releasing them into the stream of commerce, putting hundreds of thousands of patients at substantial risk for serious injuries that require additional risky surgeries to address.
Adams underwent hip replacement surgery in January 2011 and received a Zimmer M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis. After experiencing escalating painful complications, Adams required revision surgery in February 2015 to remove and replace the defective hip implant. Her surgeon noted extensive evidence of adverse local tissue reactions caused by metallic debris from the metal-on-metal hip replacement. Unfortunately, surgery was only able to repair so much of the damage. Adams indicates that many of her injuries are permanent and still does not know when she’ll even be able to resume any level of “normal” activity.
“Plaintiff was caused to suffer and sustain injuries of a permanent nature; to endure pain and suffering in body and mind; to expend money for medical care in the past and in the future; furthermore, Plaintiff was unable to and will in the future be unable to attend to her normal affairs and duties for an indefinite period of time,” the lawsuit states.
Zimmer’s Attempts to Derail Hip Replacement Trial
On May 29, Zimmer filed a motion for summary judgement to prevent the trial from moving forward. The company argued that Adams had awaiting too long to file her complaint. According to the motion, she should have known of Zimmer’s role in her injury in January 2015. Pennsylvania has a two-year statute of limitations. Consequently, Zimmer maintains that Adams missed her window by about a month when she filed in February 2017.
On June 22, Zimmer filed a motion for bifurcation. The company asked the court to try to the case in two phases. First, the court would deal with the statute of limitations issue before moving on to the liability and damages claims at the heart of Adams’ complaint. Zimmer further requested two separate trials with two separate juries to resolve the case issues should the court not rule in favor of its summary judgement motion.
According to recent court filings, more than 100,000 thousand individuals have received these Zimmer hip replacement components throughout the United States. In recent months, nearly two dozen of these individuals have filed complaints against Zimmer-Biomet over debilitating complications from the M/L Taper with Kinectiv technology when paired with the Zimmer Versys femoral head. These injured individuals claim that the metal-on-metal design causes implant failure, debilitating pain, and heavy metal blood poisoning as corrosion causes carcinogenic metallic debris to accumulate in local tissues and be dispersed throughout the blood stream.
Zimmer Hip Replacement Potential MDL
The federal complaints all raise similar claims that the Zimmer M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis and Zimmer VerSys are patently defective and unreasonably dangerous when used together as they are inherently incompatible. The resulting metal-on-metal friction causes the components to fret and corrode, creating metal debris that collects in the patients’ blood and local tissues, resulting in the body rejecting the implant and necessitating further surgery to remove the device.
This past month, several plaintiffs filed a motion with the JPML to establish a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Minnesota federal court. They claim that centralization of the federal lawsuits pending nationwide before one judge will help streamline the proceedings. Among other things, consolidation reduces duplicative discovery and circumvents conflicting pretrial rulings, serving the convenience of witnesses, parties, and the judicial system. The panel will likely schedule oral arguments on this motion during a September 27, 2018 hearing in San Francisco, California.
The hip replacement lawsuits over the Zimmer M/L Taper Hip with Kinectiv and Versys components join numerous other similar litigations over other metal-on-metal hip replacement systems. The JPML has already centralized many of these litigations into their own MDLs, including DePuy Pinnacle, DePuy ASR, Biomet Magnum, Stryker LFit v40, Wright Conserve, and Stryker Rejuvenate among others.
Metal-on-Metal hip designs have become exceptionally popular in recent years. However, these designs appear to have high rates of failure and significant problems that often result in the need for revision surgery within a few years.