An appeals court in Atlanta upheld a $2.1 million verdict awarded to the victim of a defective Wright Medical Group hip implant. The case had been the first bellwether trial in nationwide litigation involving these dangerous devices, but had been on appeal since the verdict was rendered in 2015. Wright Medical agreed to settle several other metal-on-metal hip implant cases in November 2016.
Wright Medical Group argued that the trial judge had erred by ordering jurors to reconsider after they originally found that the hip replacement device was not defective, yet still awarded millions in damages. After continuing deliberations, the jury decided that the Wright Medical Group hip implant was defective, and that the company should pay $11 million, including $10 million in punitive damages. The judge then reduced that award down to $2.1 million.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with Wright Medical Group, holding that the trial judges acted “in a neutral and non-biased manner” in trying to resolve the seemingly inconsistent verdict rendered by the jury. The hip implant company also argued that the trial judge made a mistake in the instructions he gave to the jury. One of Wright Medical Group’s defenses in the case is that the hip implants are unavoidably unsafe, and therefore not defective. They argue that these devices are risky and inherently dangerous, but since the benefits outweigh the costs, the manufacturer should not be liable. The judge allowed the company to make this argument to the jury, but instructed the jury that they could only win on this theory if the product also had adequate warnings and was free from manufacturing defects.
At the Court of Appeals, Wright Medical Group argued that as long as the benefits outweigh the costs, it did not have to prove it also had adequate warnings. The company relied on case law insulating manufacturers from labeling claims when the devices are FDA approved. The Court of Appeals rejected this argument, because it could only work if the device was actually approved by the FDA—and Wright Medical presented no evidence the device label was approved.
The appeals court’s decision is good news for individuals who have suffered damages from defective hip implants, because it undermines arguments that manufacturers may make to avoid liability. Wright Medical, however, claims it is suffering through financial hardship which is preventing it from settling the remaining cases. Nonetheless, attorneys for the plaintiffs continue to fight for the rights of those injured by Wright Medical Group’s defective hip implant products.
If you or a loved one has suffered injury as a result of a metal-on-metal hip replacement, you may have a claim for damages. The more quickly you act to preserve this claim by contacting an attorney, the more likely you will be to secure a recovery. As the Wright Medical hip litigation saga shows, manufacturers of defective products will not pay claims unless an experienced attorney takes it all the way to the mat. Contact Keane Law LLC today for a free evaluation of your potential hip replacement injury case.