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Lawsuit Alleges Zimmer ZMR Femoral Stem With Versys Femoral Head Caused Unreasonable Risk

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According to allegations raised in a recent product liability lawsuit over a failed hip replacement, problems with the Zimmer ZMR femoral stem used in conjunction with the Versys femoral head poses an unreasonable risk of early failure. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Susan Porter of Wisconsin in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, indicating that Zimmer Biomet, Inc. manufactured and sold dangerous hip replacement components that may result in pain, swelling, metallosis, trunnionosis, adverse reactions and the need for revision surgery to remove and replace the hip components.

Porter indicates that her left hip was replaced with a Zimmer ZMR Hip System in July 2008, which included a femoral stem with a porous plasma-sprayed Tivanium TI-6AL-4V alloy and a Zimmer Versys femoral head with a cobalt chromium alloy. The parts were used as part of a revision surgery for a prior hip implant.

“Following Plaintiff’s surgery, Plaintiff experienced increasing pain and loss of function in her hip,” Porter’s lawsuit states. “The problems gradually developed until they became more and more painful.”

A diagnosis indicated that Porter had elevated levels of cobalt and chromium in her blood, which is a sign of a form of metal blood poisoning called metallosis, often associated with the degradation of metal-on-metal hip implants as they grind together and shed debris into the body.

In August 2015, Porter required another revision surgery to have the Zimmer ZMR hip removed and replaced. Her surgeon noted that there was a large cavity found that was filled with metal debris when the implants were removed.

Zimmer-Biomet, Inc. currently faces about two dozen similar hip replacement lawsuits filed in recent months over complications involving the hip components, which are considered a metal-on-metal design.

Each of the complaints raise similar allegations that the Zimmer M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis and Zimmer VerSys Hip femoral head are defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous when paired together, with a tendency to fret and corrode, creating metal debris that gets into the patients tissue and blood, resulting in the implants failing and needing to be removed.

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.

Last month, 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.

The claims are the latest in a number of litigations that have emerged in recent years over recalled and defective metal-on-metal hip replacement systems, which the JPML have previously decided to centralize as part of separate a federal MDLs, including the DePuy ASR, DePuy Pinnacle, Biomet Magnum, Wright Conserve, Stryker LFit v40, Stryker Rejuvenate and other systems.

Metal-on-metal hip designs became increasingly popular in recent years, but components manufactured and sold by various manufacturers have been linked to high rates of failure and problems that often result in the need for revision surgery within a few years.

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