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Lawsuit Over Wright Profemur R Hip Failure Results in $4.5M Jury Award

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In the first of several hundred product liability lawsuits to go to trial involving the catastrophic failure of a Wright Profemur hip replacement, a California jury awarded $4.5 million in damages late last week.

The trial involved a complaint brought by Alan Warner, who alleged that his Wright Profemur R hip replacement broke after just three years, when it should have lasted for 15 to 20 years.

Warner is one of more than 1,200 individuals nationwide pursuing a Wright Profemur hip lawsuit, each involving similar allegations that plaintiffs experienced problems when the modular femoral neck stem broke.

Unlike traditional hip replacement systems, which feature a single femoral component, the Wright Profemur R hip stem features two modular pieces that allow the implant to be adjusted for leg length. However, plaintiffs claim that the design is prone to fracture and fail at the femoral neck stem.

Following a two-week trial in Los Angeles, a California Superior Court jury found late last week that Wright Medical Technology manufactured a defective device.

The first trial was originally slated to begin in April 2013m in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. That claim, involving a claim filed by Gregory Tucker. However, that case reportedly settled just before the trial was set to begin, after the judge denied an attempt by Wright Medical to have the case dismissed.

A second case, brought by Timothy and Linda Courson, was also settled shortly before the trial was scheduled to begin in November 2013. The terms of the settlements were not disclosed.

Like a majority of the Wright Profemur litigation, those cases were part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) established in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, where cases filed throughout the federal court system have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings.

This latest trial, the first to actually reach a jury, was held in California state court, and not part of the federal MDL. However, the results were still being closely watched by product liability lawyers involved in the litigation. While the outcome is not binding on any other case, it is expected to help gauge how juries may respond to evidence and testimony that may be similar to what will be presented throughout other cases.

If some kind of wide-ranging Wright Profemur hip settlement is not reached, hundreds of other cases involving the modular stem design may go to trial in courts nationwide in the coming years.

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