Wright Medical, one of the manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants, is pushing the Eleventh Circuit for a retrial in the first bellwether case of the multidistrict litigation (MDL) that alleges the devices are faulty and lead to permanent injury.
Robyn Christiansen was the recipient of a metal-on-metal Wright Conserve Hip Implant System that the jury deemed defective. Christiansen was awarded $1 million in compensatory damages last April, and $10 million in punitive damages.
Although U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey, Jr., gave the company credit for its intentions to improve the quality of life for active patients looking for a lasting hip system when so many on the market were failing, he maintains that the company “misled doctors and consumers about the safety of the hip system.”
The judge turned down Wright’s push for a new bellwether trial, and rejected the company’s allegations that the jury was confused and that Christiansen had a lack of evidence.
This isn’t the first time that Wright has fought against the process of the MDL. When hip implant recipient Deborah Aldrich, who is a victim of pancreatic cancer and may only have months to live, requested that her lawsuit against Wright Medical be remanded to Arizona federal court, Wright argued it would “severely prejudice” the litigation to allow it. Aldrich, however, fears that her cancer will kill her before she gets a chance to testify in her own case.
A number of lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of metal-on-metal hips alleging the devices are defectively designed. All-metal hip implants have been found to fail within as little as five years. When the metal parts rub together, debris may flake off and get into the bloodstream, putting the patient at risk for developing metallosis, a metal poisoning of the blood.
Many patients have undergone revision surgery to remove and replace their metal hip implant. These surgeries are typically more invasive and require longer recovery than initial hip replacement surgery.