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August 8, 2018

Zimmer Hip Implant Corrosion Caused Blood Poisoning

A new Zimmer hip implant lawsuit indicates that the popular hip system, consisting of the M/L Taper Hip and Versys femoral head, severely corroded due to the metal-on-metal design, causing heavy metal poisoning and premature failure, necessitating invasive and dangerous revision surgery.

Richard P. Torres and his wife, Pollyanna, filed the complaint July 24 in the Western District of Michigan. The couple names Zimmer Biomet Holdings as a defendant.

According to his lawsuit, Torres underwent total right hip replacement surgery in February 2014, receiving a Zimmer VerSys Hip Stem Femoral Head with an M/L Taper femoral stem and a Trilogy Acetabular Shell and Liner.

Zimmer Hip Implant Failure and Metal Poisoning Due to Corrosion

In late 2017, Torres began suffering from rapidly escalating pain and instability in his right hip. Consequently, he consulted with an orthopedic surgeon who tested his blood for ion levels and prescribed medication to help manage his pain. The blood tests showed high levels of chromium and cobalt, which is a known carcinogen, indicating that the Zimmer hip implant was shedding toxic metallic debris into his body. Meanwhile, his considerable pain and instability only continued to increase. Eventually, Torres required crutches or a walker to walk.

In March 2018, Torres consulted with another orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed him with mechanically-assisted crevice corrosion. He underwent revision surgery in May 2018. During the surgery, his surgeon noted significant corrosion around the femoral head-neck junction of the Zimmer hip implant. Furthermore, Torres also developed a left side inguinal hernia during the revision surgery and had to undergo additional surgery in June 2018 for hernia repair.

“In designing the Zimmer Hip System, Zimmer knew that the use of dissimilar metal alloys as well as taper size and geometry, trunnion surface finish, and flexural rigidity contribute to causing fretting and corrosion at the femoral head-femoral stem taper interface,” the lawsuit states. “Mechanically assisted crevice corrosion (‘MACC’) has been identified as a cause for symptomatic implant failure in metal-on-polyethylene hip devices. MACC produces cobalt and chromium ions, fretting byproducts and corrosive debris that can lead to adverse local tissue reaction.”

Zimmer Hip Implant Lawsuits

Torres joins a growing number of individuals stepping forward to take Zimmer to task over significant complications from its M/L Taper and Versys components due to their metal-on-metal design. Metal-on-metal hip designs have enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years. However, the virtual tidal wave of lawsuits flooding the nations courts against numerous manufacturers over high rates of failure and life-altering problems indicate that these designs are patently and even dangerously defective.

And, Zimmer’s hips are no exception. More than 100,000 Americans have received Zimmer hip implant systems. Given the high rate of failure of these devices, experts project that the litigation will quickly grow by leaps and bounds as more people discover that Zimmer concealed the high potential for significant problems from the public and medical community. Consistently, plaintiffs assert that the company knew that Zimmer hip implant components are prone to fretting and corrosion, shedding toxic metal debris into patients’ bodies to wreak havoc and resulting in necessary removal of the defective implants.

This past month, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to consolidate all federal Zimmer hip implant lawsuits over the VerSys, M/L Taper, and M/L Taper with Kinectiv Technology, requesting for the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer cases pending throughout the federal court system to District Judge Donovan Frank in Minnesota for pretrial proceedings.

Zimmer hip implant complaints are just the latest in a long line of metal hip litigations that have emerged recently over defective metal-on-metal hip replacement systems. Previously, the JPML has decided to centralize a number of these litigations in their own federal MDLs, including Biomet Magnum, DePuy ASR, DePuy Pinnacle, Stryker LFit v40, Stryker Rejuvenate, and Wright Conserve among other systems.

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