Wright Medical Hit with $11M Verdict in Bellwether Case

A Georgia jury has ordered Wright Medical Technology to pay $11 million to a woman implanted with a Conserve metal-on-metal hip implant. The plaintiff was awarded $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. The bellwether trial lasted two weeks and concluded on November 24, 2015.

The woman who filed the suit was implanted with the Conserve hip implant in 2006. After the device was implanted, she experienced loosening and a displaced acetabular cup. In 2012, she underwent surgery to correct these complications. According to her lawsuit, the surgeon discovered signs of metallosis causing soft tissue damage during the procedure. The lawsuit alleges that these complications are due to the implant’s defective metal-on-metal design. Wright is accused of failing to warn about the risks.

More than 500 lawsuits are pending in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) against Wright Medical Technology. The suits involve the Wright Conserve Total Hip Implant System, Conserve Total A-Class Advanced Metal Hip Implant System, and the Conserve Resurfacing System. Plaintiffs claim that the metal surfaces of the implants cause complications, such as inflammation and metallosis, when the metal surfaces of the implant rub together.

Wright Medical Technology is also facing a number of suits over its Profemur Hip Replacement System. In June, the first trial ended in a $4.5 million verdict for the plaintiff. A California jury found that the hip implant was defectively designed. The verdict consisted of $4 million for past and future pain and suffering while $500,000 was awarded to the plaintiff’s wife.

Wright Medical Technology is one of multiple hip makers facing allegations over metal-on-metal hip implants. The all-metal hip devices came under increased scrutiny as a whole in 2010, when Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy unit issued a worldwide recall due to high failure rates. Since then, other manufacturers, including Stryker Orthopaedics, have also issued recalls.

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