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Parts of Two Wright Profemur Hip Injury Lawsuits Dismissed

Posted: 17 Oct 2012 05:58 AM PDT Source:
Source: AboutLawsuits.com email newsletter 19 Oct 2012

Wright Medical has convinced two judges to dismiss portions of product liability lawsuits brought over problems with their Profemur hip replacement system, which features a modular femoral neck-stem that fractured or broke in both cases. However, the cases will be able to proceed on claims that the artificial hip component was defectively designed.

Arizona District Judge David Campbell and U.S. District Judge David Ebel in Colorado each ruled in separate lawsuits over the Wright Profemur hip implant that plaintiffs have enough evidence to proceed on design defect charges against the company, but dismissed other portions of the claims.

The cases are among a number of Wright Profemur hip injury lawsuitspending in courts throughout the United States, which have been brought by individuals who had the femoral neck suddenly fracture or break.

The Wright Profemur femoral neck was designed to be modular, so that it can be adjusted for leg length. It was also manufactured to be subject to bend, which lawsuits allege may cause the rapid deterioration and an increased risk of hip replacement failure.

According to a report by MassDevice.com, Judge Enbel dismissed allegations in the Colorado complaint that the Wright Profemur hip contained manufacturing defects that caused the femoral neck to break less than four years after it was implanted in the plaintiff. However, claims that the component was defectively designed were upheld, as plaintiffs allege that a safer alternative design was available, using a cobalt chrome material instead of a titanium neck, which plaintiffs claim could have made the implant stronger.

In the Arizona case, MassDevice.com reports that Judge Campbell dismissed the plaintiff’s “failure to warn” claims, but will allow the case to move forward over liability for the design of the Wright Profemur hip, which failed in that plaintiff after less than three years.

Wright Profemur Hip Problems

The Wright Profemur Total Hip System is a line of artificial hip implants that feature a modular neck stem.  Unlike most femoral components, modular neck stems consist of two parts that fit inside of each other, allowing the surgeon to adjust the component for leg length.

While originally introduced with a titanium femoral neck, an updated version of the Wright Profemur was introduced in 2010, with a cobalt chromium construction, which the manufacturer has suggested provides improved strength characteristics.

According to an SEC filing in August 2012, Wright Medical indicated that their liability for lawsuits filed by individuals who required revision surgery after a fracture of a long Profemur titanium modular neck may be between $24 million and $39 million. However, the company is continuing to fight individual lawsuits and indicated that they estimate they will pay the majority of any settlements for Wright Profemur fractures over the next four years.

The U.S. Attorneys Office for the Western District of Tennessee is investigating Wright Medical in connection with their handling of the Wright Profemur problems.

A subpoena was issued earlier this year for copies of “records and documentation” from January 1, 2000 through August 2, 2012, involving the Profemur hip components. Although the U.S. Attorney’s subpoena is not an allegation of wrongdoing, it comes amid a growing number of product liability lawsuits filed throughout the United States.

Other Wright Medical Hip Replacement Injury Lawsuits

In addition to lawsuits involving the fractures of the Wright Profemur stem, the medical device manufacturer also faces a growing number oflawsuits over the Wright Conserve hip replacement, which allege that the design of that metal-on-metal system allows the release of microscopic metal debris into the body, which may cause early failure of the components.

All federal Wright Conserve lawsuits have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which is centralized in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.