$9.2 million verdict in first Zimmer hip-implant case. Los Angeles County.

Summary

59-year-old  man injured by a defective metal-on-metal hip implant manufactured by Zimmer. He underwent two hip replacement surgeries in 15 months, lives with chronic pain.

 

The Case

  • Case Name: Gary Kline v. Zimmer Holdings Inc.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court/ BC444834
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, July 24, 2015
  • Type of Action: Products Liability
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Amy D. Hogue
  • Plaintiffs:
    Gary Kline, 59, CEO of a water treatment equipment manufacturer.
  • Defendants:
    Zimmer Holdings Inc.
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $9,153,317.94
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical expenses: $153,317.94

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past noneconomic damages: $2,400,000

    Future noneconomic damages: $6,,600,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 1/2 hours.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Waters, Kraus & Paul by David Bricker, El Segundo.

    Waters, Kraus & Paul by Gibbs Henderson and Erin Wood, Dallas.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Fullbright & Jaworski LLP by Jan Dodd, Los Angeles.

    Shook, Hardy & Bacon by David Brooks, Kansas City, MO.

    Faegre Baker Daniels by Stacy Prall, Indianapolis, IN.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Ryan Nunley, M.D., orthopedic surgery, St. Louis, MO.  

    William Long, M.D., orthopedic surgery.    

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    James W. Pritchett, M.D., orthopedic surgery, Seattle, WA.

     

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Roy Bloebaum Ph.D., coatings, Salt Lake City, UT.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Kevin Ong, Ph.D., P.E., biomedical engineer, coatings, Philadelphia, PA.

    Hollace Rhodes, FDA, Washington, DC.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff experienced severe osteoarthritis in his right hip. After conservative treatment, plaintiff's doctor recommended a total hip replacement, which was performed on May 31, 2007. After surgery plaintiff developed progressively worsening pain and did not reach his milestones of strength and range of motion in physical therapy. In July, 2007 plaintiff's pain was so severe during physical therapy that his doctor paused traditional physical therapy and prescribed a course of home physical therapy until plaintiff was able to resume traditional physical therapy again..

    In September 2008 plaintiff became almost entirely incapacitated by hip and groin pain, which is an indication of a failed hip device. On September 25, 2008 a second surgery was performed on plaintiff to replace the entire hip prosthetic.

    Post operatively, plaintiff did well and met expected PT milestones in terms of strength and flexibility.  However, his complaints of pain continued and, after extensive testing, his treating physicians diagnosed him with muscle, nerve and tissue damage caused by two major surgeries within 15 months. The damage in his hip is permanent and will continue to limit his activities.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That beginning in 2006, defendant Zimmer Holdings, Inc. intentionally misled American surgeons into believing that the U.S. version of the Durom Cup had a successful and safe track record in Europe, where the product was introduced after having been developed and tested for seven years. That, for the U.S. market, Zimmer altered the Durom Cup’s plasma coating, a critical component of the device. That Zimmer chose not to test the altered coating to determine its effectiveness. Instead, Zimmer rushed the product to market to catch up with its competitors who already had similar products on the U.S. market, all while hiding the fact that the American Durom Cup was not the same as its European counterpart. That this emphasis of profits over safety caused significant harm to thousands of Americans.

    That implantation of Zimmer's Durom Cup forced plaintiff Gary Kline to undergo two grueling hip replacement surgeries in just 15 months and has left him living with chronic pain. That the Durom Cup piece of the original prosthetic used for plaintiff had not functioned as it was supposed to as no bone ingrowth had occurred. That plaintiff's original pain from osteo arthritis went away after removal of the diseased hip, but that  after the revision surgery, plaintiff continued to experience hip and leg pain due to muscle damage, nerve damage and tissue damage from two major surgeries within 15 months.  
     

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That the Durom cup was not defective and was adequately tested in Europe before release in the U.S. That the cup in this case was not loose, had evidence of bone growth and that plaintiff's surgeon jumped the gun in removing it. That plaintiff had significant pain before the Durom Cup was implanted, after the Durom Cup was implanted and after the Durom Cup was removed; so, his pain was in no way related to the Durom Cup.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Zimmer’s product left plaintiff with stabbing pains so severe that he could not move his leg. After plaintiff’s second surgery, the residual scar tissue and muscle damage have made it almost impossible for him to do things he once took for granted, like getting on and off his motorcycle or playing in the yard with his grandchildren. The only thing that helps to manage the debilitating pain is prednisone – but long-term steroid use causes additional health problems. Plaintiff will never return to the lifestyle he enjoyed before receiving the Durom Cup.

Additional Notes

This is the first verdict against Zimmer, Inc. in a metal-on-metal hip implant case.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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