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Failed NexGen Implant Subject of Latest Zimmer Knee Lawsuit

A Zimmer knee lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. It is the latest complaint concerning Zimmer’s NexGen range of knee implants, taking the total number of product liability cases brought against the firm to more than 700. The plaintiff – a woman from Bothell, Washington – filed the lawsuit on June 24 2013. She alleges the company should have warned her of the risk of early knee replacement failure. The claimant is requesting compensation for medical costs, disability, lost wages, rehabilitation and pain and suffering.

The plaintiff had initially been implanted with the NexGen system in July 2007, and began suffering pain shortly after the operation. She returned for numerous appointments with her doctor, complaining of consistent pain. Similar Zimmer knee complications have been cited in hundreds of lawsuits.

The manufacturer launched its first Zimmer knee replacement in 1968. Since then, it has released several models, including the NexGen line. Since the product hit the market in 1995, around 3 million people have received a NexGen knee. Many of them have reported difficulties walking and standing. Some have noted popping, crunching and clicking noises emanating from the knee.

Zimmer knee lawsuit says NexGen is ‘more likely to fail’

The NexGen Knee system uses a high-flex femoral component, which purports to allow greater flexibility than femoral components found in ‘traditional’ knee implants. According to court documents, some surgeons say there is a fundamental design flaw preventing the NexGen implants from fusing with the thigh bone.

A peer-reviewed study in a 2007 edition Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery examined the high incidence of the femoral component loosening in Zimmer’s NexGen LPS-Flex system. The results showed that 38% of LPS-Flex knees were loose after just two years of use. Half of those patients had to undergo revision surgery. The NexGen LPS-Flex was recalled by the FDA in December 2010.

Revision surgery is impossible for some

Treatment for Zimmer knee complications varies from patient to patient. In some cases, a course of antibiotics and/or multiple revision surgeries will be required. But revisions surgery is not applicable for every patient; in extreme cases, amputation may be necessary.

For those eligible to undergo revisions surgery, a long healing process is required before the patient can use the knee. During this period, they will be rendered immobile.

NexGen knee complaints consolidated for pre-trial proceedings

There are more than 700 lawsuits pertaining to the NexGen system. Because of the high number of lawsuits pending against Zimmer, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation recently moved to consolidate cases into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The MDL is scheduled to take place in front of Judge Rebecca R. Pallymer in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

To give all parties an impression of juries’ likely verdicts, a number of ‘bellwether’ cases are being prepared for early trials. Cases should be selected for trial by February 2014. Both sides must submit witnesses prior to that date. Judge Pallmeyer has indicated that the first Zimmer NexGen knee lawsuit will be ready for trial by January 2015.