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Wright Hip Settlement to Include Another $90M for Payments Over Metal-on-Metal Problems

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After previously agreeing to pay more than $240 million to resolve about 1,300 lawsuits over metal-on-metal hip replacements, Wright Medical has announced that it will pay another $90 million to settle about 750 more cases.

For several years, Wright Medical has been dealing with product liability lawsuits over design problems with certain metal-on-metal hip implants sold in recent years, which may cause the release of microscopic metallic debris, leading to tissue damage, metal blood poisoning and early implant failure.

In November 2016, the manufacturer announced a Wright hip settlement that resolved certain cases involving revision surgery with a Conserve, Dynasty or Lineage metal-on-metal implant. The average recovery for each plaintiff in that original settlement was about $185,000.

In an SEC filing last week, Wright Medical announced that it has agreed to pay up to $89.75 million more to “resolve substantially all remaining metal-on-metal hip claims” currently pending in the federal court system and California state court, which were not settled as part of the prior agreement.

The settlement will include $7.9 million to fund the resolution of 49 claims that would have been eligible to participate in the first settlement, but for a claim limit in that agreement. Another $5.1 million will be set aside to settle 39 eligible claims of the oldest claimants, by age. The remaining $76.75 million will settle all remaining claims pending as of June 30, 2017, as well as up to 30 new cases arising between July 1, 2017 and October 1, 2017.

As last week, the manufacturer indicates that there were about 629 eligible Wright hip lawsuits pending in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) or California Judicial Counsel Coordination Proceeding (JCCP). Another 710 pending cases were deemed to be ineligible for the hip settlement, including 630 where the plaintiff have not required revision surgery to remove and replace their metal-on-metal hip.

In November 2015, a Wright Conserve hip lawsuit resulted in an $11 million verdict, in what was viewed as a “bellwether” case designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that would be repeated throughout the litigation. The jury verdict included $10 million in punitive damages, as a result of the company’s reckless disregard for the safety of consumers.

A later ruling reduced that verdict to just over $2 million, but the manufacturer has elected settle other hip cases, rather than facing additional large jury awards.

Wright Medical was one of several manufacturers to face metal-on-metal hip lawsuits in recent years, claiming that the design was unreasonably dangerous and prone to early failure. Other manufacturers faced similar allegations in DePuy ASR hip lawsuits, DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits and other cases.

More recently, a new wave of hip litigation has emerged, involving individuals who received certain large-diameter femoral heads manufactured by Stryker as part of their artificial hip replacement. The cases stem from a recent Stryker LFit V40 recall issued due to a high rate of problems experienced by individuals who received the femoral head used in various different types of hip systems, including Stryker Accolade, Stryker Meridian, Stryker Citation and other implants.

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