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Wright Profemur Hip Settlement Reached to Avoid Trial

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Wright Medical has agreed to settle a hip replacement lawsuit over problems with their Profemur modular stem, resolving the case shortly before trial was scheduled to begin.

The settlement was reached in a Wright Profemur lawsuit filed by Timothy R. Courson and his wife, Linda Courson, which was expected to go to trial last month in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

About five days before trial was to begin, a settlement order (PDF) was entered by the Court, indicating that the parties reached an agreement to resolve the case. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The case stems from a product liability complaint (PDF) filed by the Coursons in May 2012, which alleged that Timothy Courson received a hip replacement that included a Wright Profemur Plasma Z hip stem. In June 2011, the hip replacement failed and broke while Courson was walking at work, resulting in the need for revision surgery.

Litigation Over Wright Profemur Fractures

The case is one of a number of Wright Profemur hip replacement lawsuits pending in courts throughout the country, which involve similar allegations that patients experienced problems when the modular femoral stem broke within a few years after implant.

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 fret, corrode and ultimately fracture at the femoral neck stem.

Courson alleged not only that the Wright Profemur hip was defective, but that the manufacturer sent a representative after his implant broke, who provided an extraction device that was supposed to aid in the revision surgery. However, Wright’s extraction device also broke while it was being used, causing Courson to suffer further damage and his physician had to perform another procedure to remove the Wright Medical Profemur and the company’s broken extraction device.

Trial in the Courson case was being closely watched by product liability lawyers involved in the litigation, as it was expected to help gauge how juries may respond to evidence and testimony that may be similar to what will be offered throughout other cases.

This is at least the second Wright Profemur hip settlement reached just before trial was set to begin. In April, a settlement was reached in a Wright Profemur lawsuit filed by Gregory Tucker, with the agreement coming just a day after a judge denied an attempt by the manufacturer to have the case dismissed.

Similar Lawsuits Over Stryker Rejuvenate Hip Stems

The allegations raised in the Wright Profemur litigation are similar to those made in Stryker Rejuvenate lawsuits, which involve a similar modular design.

In July 2012, a Stryker Rejuvenate recall was issued amid reports that the the modular femoral neck-stem may corrode and fret, causing the implant to loosen and ultimately fail within a few years. An estimated 20,000 Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II hip systems were sold in the United State before it was removed from the market, and nearly 1,000 complaints have already been filed in state and federal courts nationwide.

Due to large scope of the Stryker Rejuvenate litigation, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established coordinated proceeding in the federal court system in June 2013. All complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide have been centralized in the District of Minnesota before U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank, as part of an MDL or Multi-District Litigation.

In both the state and federal litigation, it is expected that a small group of Stryker Rejuvenate cases will be prepared for early trial dates, known as “bellwether” cases. These trials are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout a large number of claims.

The preparation and outcome of these bellwether trials may facilitate further negotiations to settle Stryker Rejuvenate cases without the need for individual trials in each lawsuit.

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