A California jury has ordered Wright Medical Technology Inc. to pay $4.5 million to Alan Warner, a metal hip implant patient, and his wife after finding that his implant was defective and caused him harm. This was the first trial among 1,200 cases claiming Wright’s hip implants are defective. The jury agreed with the patient’s allegation that the hip implant he received contained a manufacturing defect, and that the implant’s failure injured both him and his wife. Interestingly, the jurors didn’t find that Wright was negligent in designing the Profemur R implant.
The jury didn’t award Mr. Warner any damages for his medical expenses. But they did award him $4 million for his past and future pain and mental suffering. His wife was awarded $500,000 for the losses she’s suffered as the result of his defective hip implant.
The suit was filed in December 2011, alleging that on Oct. 27, 2010, Mr. Warner’s implant failed while he went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, throwing him into extreme agony and forcing him to undergo extensive surgery to fix it. Laser guidance marks etched too deeply on the implant allegedly weakened the implant and caused it to fail, according to Mr. Warner. His case is a bit different than most of the others, in that the implant appeared to break in the stem of the implant. Most others appear to have broken in the neck or leeched chromium and cobalt into the bloodstream and hip capsule.
Steven R. Vartazarian, a lawyer for Mr. Warner, told jurors during the trial that the hip implant was supposed to last 15 to 20 years, but that this one failed after less than three years. This case is the first of more than 600 lawsuits in coordinated litigation in California state court and about 600 more in federal multidistrict litigation based in Georgia to go before jurors. All of the cases focus on the alleged metal-on-metal failure of Wright’s Profemur hip implants, though the specific types of failure vary. Wright took the position during the trial that the device failed because it was not installed correctly. It was contended by Wright that this allowed slight movements that eventually caused the fracture.
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