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Zimmer M/L Taper Hip System Released Toxic Levels Of Cobalt And Chromium: Lawsuit

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A North Carolina man indicates that problems with the Zimmer M/L Taper Hip System resulted in the release of toxic levels of cobalt and chromium into his blood, resulting in the loosening and failure of his hip replacement implant. 

Robert Fick filed a product liability complaint (PDF) against Zimmer, Inc. earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, indicating that the company sold a defective hip implant, which has been linked to a large number of reported problems.

According to the lawsuit, Fick had a Zimmer M/L Taper Hip System implanted in February 2012, which included a Versys 12/14 Tapered Cobalt-Chromium (CoCr) femoral head.

“Despite [reassurances of device safety], the defective design and manufacture of the Zimmer M/L Taper Hip System, with a CoCr femoral head generates excessive fretting and corrosion occurring at the head-neck/stem taper junctions,” the complaint states. “The fretting and corrosion generates toxic metal debris, metal ions and other chemical byproducts which are released into the surrounding tissues. These metal debris, metal ions and byproducts destroy the surrounding tissue and bone, often causing pseudotumors, and other metal related conditions. The release of metal debris and metal ions also causes systemic exposure to toxic metallic elements, often reflected in elevated blood serum and/or urine testing levels.”

After experiencing metallosis, pseudotumor and severe trunnionosis, Fick’s hip replacement failed, resulting in the need for revision surgery in March 2016.

The problems experienced by Fick are similar to the issues that gave rise to a Stryker LFit v40 hip recall in August 2016, according to the complaint. Fick indicates that both the LFit v40 femoral head and the Zimmer Versys femoral heads are made of cobalt-chromium, and both are typically mated with metal alloy stems that result in an increased risk of “taper lock failure” and excessive metal debris.

Zimmer currently faces a growing number of similar complaints filed in recent months over the combination of the Zimmer M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis and Zimmer VerSys Hip femoral head.

More than 100,000 of these Zimmer hip replacements have been implanted throughout the United States, according to recently filed court documents. As lawyers continue to investigate and review potential cases in the coming months and years, it is expected that the size of the litigation may increase rapidly.

In August, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to centralize all Zimmer hip lawsuits over the VerSys, M/L Taper and M/L Taper with Kinective Technology, asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer cases filed in various different federal district courts to U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in Minnesota for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

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