Jury Returns Defense Verdict in Zimmer NexGen Knee Trial

Zimmer NexGen Flex knee implant
Zimmer NexGen Flex knee implant

A Chicago jury returned a defense verdict for Zimmer Inc. in the third NexGen knee bellwether trial.

The verdict was returned on Jan. 26 in Beverly Jemma Goldin v. Zimmer, Inc., et al., No. 12-2048, N.D. Ill., Eastern Div.

Goldin argued unsuccessfully that the implant was defective because Zimmer failed to warn her orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Russell Windsor, that a patient’s obesity or morbid obesity was a risk factor that could increase the likelihood of an implant loosening for the NexGen knee implant.

Zimmer’s defense prevailed, contending that the warnings provided adequately informed surgeons like Dr. Windsor of the risks relating to a patient’s weight, and that Dr. Windsor independently knew about those risks.

A medical device manufacturer has a duty to warn of all potential dangers in its prescription devices that it knew, or, in the exercise of reasonable care should have known to exist. Reasonable care means that degree of care which a reasonably prudent person would use under the same circumstances.

500 lawsuits

There are 500 lawsuits filed against Zimmer in MDL No. 2272 in the Northern District of Illinois, supervised by US District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer.  Separately, Zimmer is facing 463 lawsuits in IN RE: Zimmer Durom Hip Cup Products Liability Litigation in MDL 2158 before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in the District of New Jersey.

Dr. Bhajanjit Sonny Bal, MD, JD, MBA, a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Missouri.

Goldin had her right knee replaced in 2009 with a NexGen Flex knee made by Zimmer, after exhausting all non-surgical options — but it loosened and collapsed in 2011, when she had it replaced. Total knee replacements usually last for a period of 10 to 15 years or longer.

Goldin’s causation expert was Dr. Sonny Bal.  Bal is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Missouri Health Care hospital in Columbia, Mo.

The plaintiff is 5-feet one-inch tall and weighs 241 pounds, giving her a body mass index of 45.5, considered morbidly obese. The package inserts warned about the failure of the knee prosthesis for “heavy patients,” which Dr. Bal said is vague. In his opinion, Zimmer had the knowledge, resources, and ability to conduct tests, and to warn, about the NexGen Flex’s risks when implanted in morbidly obese patients.  There is no mention of weight or obesity in the “contraindications,” “warnings,” or “precautions” sections of the package insert.

The first bellwether trial resulted in a defense verdict, and Zimmer obained summary judgment in the second bellwether case, which is now on appeal.

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