A federal jury in Georgia has awarded a plaintiff $11 million in a case involving a defective metal-on-metal hip implant manufactured by Wright Medical Technology, Inc.
Headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, Wright Medical Technology is a global manufacturer of medical devices and implants. It made the Conserve hip implant until 2013, when it sold its hip and knee implant division to another company. Wright also merged with another medical device manufacturing company in October 2015.
First Case Among Hundreds
The case is considered a bellwether trial, which means it is the first among a large number of similar lawsuits pending in courts across several jurisdictions against the same defendant and that its results will determine how similar cases are resolved.
The plaintiff in the Georgia case, who is now 73 years old, is a retired ski instructor who received a Wright-made Conserve brand hip implant in 2006. By 2012, she began suffering extreme pain in the replaced hip. Eventually, she was forced to undergo a second surgery to attempt to alleviate the pain. When doctors opened her up, however, they found the hip implant had damaged the surrounding soft tissue, causing necrosis and metallosis.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff argued that the implant is defective, as its titanium neck is susceptible to degradation and failure. Furthermore, the plaintiff alleged Wright knew about the defects and continued to market and sell it anyway.
The trial lasted a little over two weeks. After a few days of deliberation, the jury found Wright had deliberately misrepresented the hip implant’s safety. It awarded the plaintiff $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.
Wright’s spokesperson has stated the company will appeal the verdict. There are over 300 additional cases pending against Wright for injuries caused by the same hip implant.