On June 12, 2015, after an eight-day trial, a 12-member California jury deliberated for more than a day before it awarded the plaintiffs $4.5 million in compensatory damages after finding that the manufacturer of a hip implant, Wright Medical Technology Inc., defectively designed the hip prosthesis that was implanted in the male plaintiff.
The jury awarded $2 million for the plaintiff’s past pain and suffering, an additional $2 million for the plaintiff’s future pain and suffering, and $500,000 to the plaintiff’s wife for her loss of consortium claim. However, the jury did not award any damages for past or future medical expenses.
In 2010, the plaintiff had surgery to replace his prior hip implant that had failed. The defendant surgeon implanted the Wright Medical Technology Inc.’s Profemur R hip prosthesis in the plaintiff. In 2012, the plaintiff’s hip implant fractured at the stem within the plaintiff’s femur. The jury decided that the implant was not defectively designed but did determine that the defendant’s hip implant was defectively manufactured, by a jury vote of 9 to 3.
The plaintiff had alleged that the hip implant fractured at the point of the stem where the manufacturer had used a laser etching that the manufacturer placed to orient the device during implantation. According to the plaintiffs, the laser etching was greater than 100 microns deep, and that laser etchings greater than 35 microns can lead to the titanium in the implant to become brittle, crack, and ultimately fail (the plaintiff was standing in his kitchen when his hip implant fractured).
The defendant manufacturer argued to the jury that the defendant surgeon who had implanted its hip prosthesis into the plaintiff was at fault for its premature failure due to poor fit by the surgeon, and further alleged that the stem chosen by the surgeon was too narrow and that the plaintiff’s femur was in poor condition, as evidenced by the plaintiff’s original hip fracture and the failure of his original hip implant.
The California jury found that Wright Medical Technology Inc.’s Profemur R hip prosthesis was defectively manufactured and that the manufacturing defect was a substantial factor in causing the harm that the plaintiffs suffered.
It has been reported that the plaintiffs’ pre-trial settlement demand was $4 million and the highest settlement offer was $455,000. The California case against Wright Medical Technology Inc. was the first hip implant case to go to trial against Wright. There are 1,200 pending cases against Wright Medical Technology Inc. in California and in multidistrict litigation in federal court in Georgia. Wright has vowed to appeal the California jury’s verdict.
If you or a family member may have a defective hip implant claim against Wright Medical Technology Inc. or another company, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney in your state who may advise you with regard to your defective hip implant claim.
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