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Zimmer Hip Lawsuit Removed to Federal Court

One of many Zimmer hip lawsuits pending in the U.S. has been removed from the state civil court where it was filed, and will instead be tried in federal court. The civil action was initially filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on March 15, 2013. The motion to remove the case to federal court was filed on April 9.

The plaintiff had suffered complications and required Zimmer hip revision surgery twice. He alleges the hip implant he was given is defective, and has caused pain and suffering. The reason for moving the lawsuit to federal court is the amount of compensation sought by the plaintiff exceeds $75,000 – the starting sum for most district and federal product liability cases.

According to court documents, the plaintiff’s allegations of injury are “similar to others” that have ended up in federal court.

Complaints relate to Durom Cup

An estimated 12,000 patients have been implanted with the Durom cup hip replacement system, which Zimmer claims on their website is a “high-tech” system designed to provide greater stability and range of motion.

Hip implants are an integral part of Zimmer’s $4 billion business. Constructed of a single sheet of cobalt chromium alloy, the Durom Cup has a pure titanium plasma-sprayed coating fixing it in place.

But increasing numbers of patients are coming forward complaining of complications, including the loosening of the implant, pain, and inflammation. Some, like the plaintiff in Pennsylvania, experienced total Zimmer hip failure and were forced to undergo revision surgery – a riskier prospect than a first operation, as it requires doctors to remove and replace the device in one lengthy, complex procedure.

Former consultant expressed concern

A few years after the implant hit the market, a former Zimmer consultant publicly expressed his concerns about the Durom Cup system. Dr. Lawrence Dorr said there were flaws in the implant’s design that could lead to unreasonably high failure rates of nearly 24% (compared to the predicted 5.7% failure rate cited by Zimmer).

A study published in the British Medical Journal analysed 18 studies on hip implants, comprising 3,139 patients across more than 830,000 operations. The report documented what doctors call “functional outcomes” – a person’s ability to perform daily, routine activities. It compared functional outcomes between patients with metal-on-metal implants, such as the Durom Cup, and those who had received traditional implants. The report found that the quality of life was the same in both groups, thereby calling into question Zimmer’s claims of the superiority of metal on metal devices over traditional implants.

The research looked at data from Australia, New Zealand and England/Wales, and found there were higher rates of revision surgery associated with metal-on-metal implants. Additionally, 17 of the 18 studies reported a higher incidence of hip dislocation in patients who received metal-on-metal implants.

Another study, published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, found that concentrations of chromium and cobalt in the blood of 64 patients who had had the Durom cup for one year was 1.61 micrograms per liter for chromium and 0.67 for cobalt.

Subsequent to these study findings, hundreds of Zimmer hip lawsuits have been filed in courts across the country.