Wright Medical Takes Another Step Toward Their Complete Exit From Hip Implants
Mark A. York (October 9, 2017)
Mass Mass Tort Nexus
Wright Medical Technology, Inc. and plaintiffs in the Conserve metal-on-metal hip implant multidistrict litigation MDL 2329, (see Wright Medical, Inc. MDL 2329 Conserve Hip Implant Litigation briefcase) have agreed on a “comprehensive” settlement to resolve the remaining claims against the company. MDL 2329 has been ongoing in the US District Court of Georgia since 2012, and soon after the hip cases were consolidated, Wright sold it’s hip and knee implant operation to Chinese medical entity MicroPort Medical for just under $300 million.
The settlement comes may have been impacted with one plaintiff winning $11 million in the first bellwether trial in Atlanta in November 2015, and after the other cases were not dismissed, and with additional bellwether trials coming, the company chose to settle versus risking additional high dollar verdicts, and further issues with insurance carriers as to who would be liable.
$89 Million SEC Disclosure
On October 3, 2017 Wright disclosed the settlement in 3rd quarter SEC filings, where the company said its maximum liability will not exceed $89.75 million. The settlement is contingent on availability of new insurance proceeds from the company’s insurance carriers, expected to be $35 million.
The payouts will come in three agreed upon cash outlays, with the first for $7.9 million for certain claimants, the second for $5.1 for the oldest claims, and $76.75 million for the rest. The final payment is scheduled for September 2019.
For patients to be eligible for settlement they must have a claim filed and pending and received and undergone the revision of the cup, the head, the liner, or some combination thereof, of one of the following metal-on-metal articulating bearing surface product configurations:
(a) A CONSERVE® acetabular cup paired with a CONSERVE® cobalt chromium femoral head;
(b) A DYNASTY® acetabular cup and metal liner paired with a CONSERVE® cobalt chromium femoral head; or
(c) A LINEAGE® acetabular cup and metal liner paired with a LINEAGE® or CONSERVE® cobalt chromium femoral head.
In the two-week bellwether trial, the jury awarded $11 million to Robyn Christiansen, a retired ski instructor implanted with the Conserve metal-on-metal hip implant made by the company. Christiansen received $1 million in compensatory damages and a whopping $10 million in punitive damages.
Prior to the settlement, there were approximately 629 claims that were eligible, and approximately 710 claims (of which 630 are non-revisions) that were ineligible, to participate in the comprehensive settlement. There were also approximately 47 claims pending in U.S. courts and approximately 65 claims pending in non-U.S. courts that will not be included under the agreement.
Metal-on-Metal Controversy Remains
Metal-on-metal hips became controversial after foreign registries showed higher than normal failure rates, often resulting in Metallosis, a condition where metal particles are absorbed in to the body due to the interaction of the various metals and at times, body fluids. This results in a chronic inflammation and onset of a myriad of severe medical conditions, that prior to metal on metal implants, was relatively unknown outside the metal working industry. In May 2011, the FDA ordered manufacturers of the devices to conduct postmarket surveillance, to determine the true dangers of metallosis and how the condition will impact the thousands of patients who’ve received metal on metal implants, not only in the USA, but around the world.
Thousands of lawsuits were filed against the largest manufacturers by patients who alleged they were injury from the implants. The multi-district cases, in addition to Wright Medical’s, include:
- Zimmer Holding’s Durom Hip Cup (290 filed cases)
- DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.’s ASR Hip Implant (8, 858 filed cases)
- DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.’s Pinnacle Hip Implant (5, 153 filed cases)
- Biomet, Inc.’s M2a Magnum Hip Implant (978 filed cases)
DePuy Pinnacle MDL Trial
DePuy reached a multi-billion-dollar settlement with patients implanted with the ASR system last year in MDL 2197, see DEPUY MDL 2197 ASR HIP IMPLANT Litigation Briefcase. DePuy Orthopaedics remains deeply involved in MDL 2244, see DePuy Orthopaedics MDL 2244 Pinnacle Hip Implant Litigation Briefcase, where there’s a current federal bellwether trial underway in Houston, TX that started September 22, 2017. The last DePuy Pinnacle trial ended in a jury verdict awarding over $1 billion to a group of five plaintiffs from California, which the judge subsequently reduced to just over $500 million.
MoM Controversy Remains
The issues related to metal-on-metal hip implants,the affiliated onset of metallosis and the numerous other adverse health conditions brought on by the use of MoM devices, does not appear to be going away anytime soon, as there are new hip implant multidistrict litigation consolidations arising every year including. Within the last few months the Stryker LFIT V40 MDL 2768 (see MDL 2768 Created in Stryker LFIT Anatomic CoCR V40 Prosthetic Hip Litigation) and the Smith & Nephew BHR & R3 MDL 2775 (see Smith & Nephew MDL 2775 “BHR & R3 HIP SYSTEM” in USDC Maryland Briefcase), mass torts have started, and re just 2 of the many ongoing hip implant legal disputes where metal-on-metal health related issues will be determined.