Wright Medical Technology has agreed to a $240 million settlement to end about 1,300 claims in consolidated litigation in Georgia federal court and California state court over its metal-on-metal hip implants. This puts an end to the majority of the suits that were filed over the implants. Under the terms of the settlement, 1,292 patients who had to go through revision surgery within eight years of their original Conserve, Lineage or Dynasty hip implants are eligible for the settlement. Those implanted with the Conserve Cup – the device with the most frequent failures – can receive $170,000, while those who had the metal-liner Dynasty and Lineage devices can recoup $120,000, according to a statement from the Plaintiffs’ leadership counsel. Wright Medical CEO Robert Palmisano said in a statement:
This settlement addresses approximately 85 percent of the known U.S. revision claims that do not have potential statute of limitations issues and removes a great deal of the uncertainty that has been associated with this litigation.
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 also included in the settlement. The plaintiffs’ leadership counsel said in a statement:
During the negotiations with Wright Medical, it was made clear that claims for revised Wright metal-on-metal hips that are not included in this settlement will be part of subsequent settlement programs.
The first bellwether trial in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Georgia federal court ended in a $11 million verdict last November for the Plaintiff, Robyn Christiansen. That verdict was later reduced by the court to $2.1 million.
U.S. District Judge William S. 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 reduced 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.
The MDL was established in February 2012. Ms. Christiansen – one of many recipients of the Wright Conserve Hip Implant System, which allegedly causes damage to soft tissue surrounding the device – had her case selected by the court as the first bellwether trial. The Plaintiffs leadership counsel is represented by Michael L. McGlamry of Pope McGlamry; Raymond P. Boucher of Boucher; Helen Zukin of Kiesel Law, Peter Burg of Burg Simpson, Christopher Yuhl of Yuhl Carr; Sean Jez of Fleming Nolen & Jez; and Ellen Relkin of Weitz & Luxenberg.
The cases are In re: Wright Medical Technology Inc., Conserve Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, case number 1:12-md-02329, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, and 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.