In a multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving two metal hip implant devices made by Biomet Inc., federal judge Robert L. Miller Jr. has approved a two-part settlement for at least $56 million. Biomet hip implant patients must have filed a lawsuit on or before by April 15, 2014 to be included in the settlement.
Under the definition in the settlement, qualified plaintiffs are those who were implanted with Biomet M2a-38 or M2a-Magnum hip implants and later needed to have the devices “revised,” i.e., replaced or repaired. The MDL involves more than 1,200 claims that Biomet manufactured a defective metal-on-metal hip implant that caused recipients injuries and complications including metallosis (metal poisoning), pain, difficulty walking, bone and tissue damage, and premature hip failure. Because of bone and tissue damage, revision surgery is often riskier and more painful than the original surgery, and the outcome not as good. Law360 reports that each qualified plaintiff will receive a base payment of $200,000; the total payment is determined by various court-approved conditions.
In recent years, DePuy Orthopaedics, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, Smith & Nephew, and other device makers have recalled metal-on-metal hip devices. Johnson & Johnson agreed to a $2.5 billion settlement in approximately 8,000 lawsuits over its hip devices. Stryker Corp. has settled four lawsuits involving allegations of injuries from defective hip implants and the company has agreed to mediation in 500 others, according to Law360.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that metal-on-metal hip devices are more likely to fail prematurely than hips made of such materials as plastic and ceramic. Last year, the FDA advised symptomatic metal-on-metal hip implant patients to seek testing and medical attention. The agency is considering changes in regulations to increase scrutiny for these devices. Daniel C. Burke, senior associate at Parker Waichman LLP, said, “Thousands of individuals who were implanted with all-metal hips are suffering from an array of adverse reactions that have left them in pain, immobilized, or dealing with the effects of metallosis—dangerous levels of metal ions in their bloodstreams.” Parker Waichman represents a number of injured hip recipients in suits against manufacturers.