The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to undo the $2.1 million judgment awarded to the Plaintiff in the first bellwether trial of a Wright Conserve hip replacement lawsuit. In a March 20th Opinion, the appellate court rejected the defendants’ assertions that either a new trial or judgment not withstanding the verdict was warranted by purported issues with jury instructions.
Robyn Christiansen, the plaintiff in this case, received a WrightConserve Hip Implant System in 2006. Six years later, she “felt and heard a crunching sound and then felt immediate, severe pain in her right hip and groin” while doing yoga. Christiansen was ultimately diagnosed with a loose and displaced acetabular cup, and forced to undergo revision surgery. During the procedure, her surgeon discovered “a metallosis reaction” in the joint around the implant.
In November 2015, jurors in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, awarded Christiansen $1 million in compensatory damages, along with $10 million in punitive damages. However, the verdict was reduced to $2.1 million the following April, after the trial court found the punitive award to be excessive.
Christiansen’s case was among hundreds of Wright Conserve hip lawsuits centralized in the Northern District of Georgia. In November 2016, Wright Medical Group announced that it had agreed to settle around 1,300 claims involving its Conserve, Dynasty and Lineage hip implants for $240 million. Those eligible to participate in the settlement program include plaintiffs who required revision surgeries within 8 years of their implant procedure, and whose claims aren’t subject to their state’s statute of limitations.
A recent filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) indicates that Wright Medical Group continues to face legal claims involving fractures of its Profemur long titanium modular neck. As of December 2016, 26 hip replacement lawsuits involving the Profemur component were pending in the U.S., while 48 had been filed outside of the country
Profemur hip components have been marketed by MicroPort Orthopedics, Inc. since 2013, when it acquired Wright Medical Group’s OrthoRecon business. MicroPort recalled certain Profemur neck components in April 2015, after they were associated with an unexpectedly high rate of fractures. MicroPort’s action was designated a Class I recall by the U.S. Food &Drug Administration, which indicates that the recalled Profemur necks may cause serious injury or death.
A number of lawsuits have since been filed by individuals who allegedly expereinced Profemur neck fractures associated with the MicroPort recall. Two cases consolidated for trial in the U.S. District Court, Central District of California are schedule to go before a jury in December 2017. (Case Nos. 2:15-cv-07102 and 2:15-cv-09397)