Nearly ten years ago, consumers sued Sulzer Medica for producing defective hip and knee implants. The company ultimately settled with the affected parties. Although the underlying facts of the Sulzer Medica litigation are technically different from those of DePuy, the Sulzer Medica outcome is nevertheless instructive. If anything, the outcome of the Sulzer Medica recall may reflect the outcomes that will emerge in forthcoming DePuy litigation.
For those unfamiliar with the Sulzer Medica situation, here is a brief synopsis:
Sulzer Medica is a Swiss company that produces artificial joint replacements. It has since changed its name to Centerpulse. In December 2000, the company discovered that machinery oil had contaminated some of its knee and hip implant parts. Consequently, affected joint replacement units failed to adhere to the bone of recipients. Sometime in 2000, the company recalled the defective units. affecting approximately 32,000 people in the United States. Many had to undergo revision surgeries to remedy the problem.
After several years of litigation, Sulzer Medica agreed to settle for a collective $1 billion. Depending on the severity and class of each affected patient’s injury, the company doled out as much as $206,000 to impacted individuals. The settlement amounts offered to recipients decreased as the level of associated injury lessened in severity. In some instances, spouses of recipients received payments. Ultimately, Sulzer Medica obtained the settlement funds through a combination of stock sales, bank borrowing, and insurance.
While there is no guarantee that pending DePuy lawsuits will yield similar settlement results, Sulzer Medica may be a useful guide because the situation in Sulzer Medica was very similar to that of DePuy. In both instances, medical manufacturers failed to safeguard their products, and consumers suffered as a consequence. Because strict liability is the governing standard in both situations, the courts will likely hold DePuy to a much higher level of care as they did in Sulzer Medica. Accordingly, settlement amounts comparable to Sulzer Medica will probably be necessary to make recipients whole for the harms they have suffered at the hands of DePuy.
Certainly, in regard to pending DePuy lawsuits, there is much left to be fleshed out. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are still in the process of subpoenaing records and deposing DePuy officials on what level of knowledge they had pertaining to faulty manufacturing processes and whether they could have feasibly implemented a safer alternative design. Moreover, DePuy attorneys are still busy researching and mounting defenses. Only until all facts are revealed can the likelihood of DePuy settlement amounts be adequately estimated.
Stay tuned to this blog for more developments relating to the nationwide DePuy ASR hip implant recall. Additionally, if you believe you have been affected by the DePuy recall, please contact Berniard Law Firm for a free consultation.