BHR Hip Lawsuit Filed Over Failure, Revision Surgery

According to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit filed last week against Smith & Nephew, problems with a Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) system caused an Illinois man to experience catastrophic failure of his hip implant twice, requiring revision surgery both times. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed by William Farner in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on September 12, where hundreds of similar lawsuit have been filed by individuals nationwide.

Farner indicates that a BHR hip implant was used during his right total hip arthroplasty (THA) in December 2007. However, he had to undergo revision surgery in March 2010, during which another BHR hip implant was placed in his right hip. In October 2015, Farner indicates that he had to undergo a second revision surgery due to hip pain and complications caused by another failure of the BHR metal-on-metal hip.

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Following the second operation, Farner’s surgeon noted that he was suffering from metallosis, elevated cobalt and chromium levels, and pseudotumors in the hip, caused by the failure of the artificial hip system.

Similar allegations have been presented in more than 440 product liability lawsuits filed over Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) problems throughout the federal court system, which have been centralized in Maryland as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL).

“At the time of the initial implant procedures, neither Plaintiff nor his surgeon were aware of the myriad problems associated with the BHR when used in a THA operation,” the lawsuit states. “In fact, Smith & Nephew continued to promote the THA total hip system as a safe alternative to other metal-on-metal hip devices despite the THA not being a safer alternative and not being approved for sale in the U.S.”

As hip implant lawyers continue to investigate and file cases for individuals nationwide, the size and scope of the BHR hip litigation has continued to increase, and it is expected that more than 1,000 cases may eventually be brought by individuals nationwide.

The Smith & Nephew Birmingham hip was one of the first metal-on-metal hip replacement systems on the market, and concerns were raised about its safety even before it was approved. A competitor, Wright Medical, attempted to stop the devices from getting approved, filing a citizen’s petition with the FDA in 2006, asking the agency to reject the application for the BHR, due to concerns over the adequacy of the clinical trials used to obtain premarket approval.

Following coordinated pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for Maryland, if the parties fail to settle cases or otherwise resolve the litigation, it is expected that a small group of representative “bellwether” cases for early trial dates, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the claims.

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