Corrupt Congressman Invests in Zimmer Biomet, Then Sponsors Bill to Make Stock Price Go Up

Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price
Georgia Republican Congressman Tom Price

According to CNN, Rep. Tom Price last year bought shares in a defective medical device manufacturer days before introducing legislation that would have directly benefited the company, raising new ethics concerns for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary.

Price bought between $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares last March in Zimmer Biomet, according to House records reviewed by CNN.
Less than a week after the transaction, Price introduced the HIP Act, legislation that would have delayed until 2018 a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulation that industry analysts warned would significantly hurt Zimmer Biomet financially once fully implemented.
Zimmer Biomet, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of knee and hip implants, was one of two companies that would have been hit the hardest by the new CMS regulation that directly impacts the payments for such procedures, according to press reports and congressional sources.
Zimmer is facing nationwide litigation against it:
  • MDL 2158 Zimmer Durom Hip Cup Products Liability Litigation, where 463 cases are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in New Jersey. The plaintiffs charge the replacement hip was defectively designed or manufactured, and that Zimmer failed to provide adequate warnings about it.
  • MDL 2272 Zimmer NexGen Knee  Product Liability Litigation, where 501 cases are consolidated before U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer in the Northern District of Illinois. Four cases have been scheduled for bellwether trials, where plaintiffs suffered loosening of the replacement knee or had to have it removed and replaced.

After Price offered his bill to provide Zimmer Biomet and other companies relief from the CMS regulation, the company’s political action committee donated to the congressman’s reelection campaign, records show.

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Wright Medical Technology Settles 1,300 Hip Implant Cases for $240 million

Wright-Medical_Hip_RecallsWright Medical Technology agreed on Nov. 2 to settle 1,292 claims in consolidated litigation in Georgia federal court and California state court for $240 million, putting an end to the majority of the suits over the implants.

According to Law360, patients who had revision surgery within eight years of their original Conserve, Lineage or Dynasty hip implant are eligible for the settlement.

  • Those implanted with the Conserve Cup —  the device with the most frequent failures — can receive $170,000
  • Those who had the metal-liner Dynasty and Lineage devices can recoup $120,000, according to a statement from the plaintiffs’ leadership counsel.

As of September, there are about 600 metal-on-metal hip implant revision claims that won’t be included in the settlement, as well as 700 metal-on-metal hip implant non-revision claims that are likewise included in the settlement, according to the company.

Federal MDL

The cases are In re: Wright Medical Technology Inc., Conserve Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, case number 1:12-md-02329, before U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr. in the Northern District of Georgia. The MDL was formed in February 2012 when there were only five active actions.

The state litigation is In re: Wright Hip System Cases, Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4710, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles.

The first bellwether trial in the multidistrict litigation in Georgia federal court ended in a $11 million verdict last November for the plaintiff, Robyn Christiansen, but that verdict was later slashed by $9 million.

Judge Duffey left intact the $1 million in compensatory damages the jury awarded to Christiansen for complications arising from her Wright Conserve Hip Implant System, but knocked the punitive damages award from $10 million down to $1.1 million.

The judge concluded that while the company may have mislead doctors and consumers about the safety of the hip system, at least part of its motivation was also to improve the quality of life for active patients by providing an innovative hip system at a time when the market was full of products that failed regularly.

Other consolidated federal hip litigations include:

  • MDL 2391, In re: Biomet M2a Magnum Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation — 535 cases before Sr. District Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr.

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