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Wright Medical Group faces a California jury this week in the first of several hundred lawsuits over their Profemur modular hip replacements, which has been linked to reports of problems where the artificial hip may fracture and break only a few years after it is implanted.
A Los Angeles jury in California Superior Court began hearing arguments and testimony on May 28, in a product liability lawsuit filed by Alan Warner, who indicates that his Profemur hip broke after just three years, when it should have lasted for 15 to 20 years.
The case is one of more than 1,200 similar Wright Profemur hip replacement lawsuits pending in courts throughout the country, 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 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.
The first trial was originally slated to begin in April 2013 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. That claim, brought by Gregory Tucker, was 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, is pending in California state court, and not part of the federal MDL. However, it is 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 settlement is not reached, hundreds of other Wright Profemur cases may have to go to trial in courts nationwide.