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Zimmer Hip Lawsuit Filed in Louisiana to Move Forward

An Order dated October 10, 2013, has rejected a motion filed by Zimmer, Inc., the defendants, to dismiss a Zimmer hip lawsuit without trial. U.S. District Court Judge Jay C. Zainey denied the request for summary judgment, ruling that the determination of whether an unreasonable delay was involved would be a matter best left to a fact finder. The defendants had filed the motion for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiff, Philip Frank, filed his complaint outside of the one-year statute of limitations in Louisiana. The statute of limitations applies to products liability lawsuits.

Judge noted plaintiff’s medical history

Philip Frank filed his Zimmer hip lawsuit after he underwent a total hip replacement in November 2007. A total hip replacement is a surgery that involves the removal of the natural hip joint and its replacement with an artificial prosthesis. It is commonly performed on patients with arthritis and similar diseases who have not responded well to conservative treatment measures such as physical therapy. During Frank’s total hip replacement surgery, the surgeon implanted several components manufactured by Zimmer, including a Versys hip system femoral head, a trabecular metal modular acetabular system shell, and a trilogy acetabular system polyethylene liner.

However, just two years later, the plaintiff began to complain of pain. Frank saw his surgeon in December 2009 and underwent x-rays. At that time, the doctor did not find anything that would indicate a problem with the hip replacement device. During subsequent visits the following year, Frank’s medical problems were mistakenly attributed to a back condition. The Judge noted that Frank visited an orthopedic specialist in October 2010. This specialist could not diagnose any problems with the hip; however, he did recommend that the patient undergo a spinal procedure for diagnostic purposes.

As the plaintiff’s Zimmer Versys hip problems continued, he contacted the defendants’ Joint Replacement Hip Help Line in December 2010, whereupon he discussed the hip implant with the Zimmer representative. However, as the Judge noted in his Order, the plaintiff did not submit medical documentation as requested by the Zimmer representative.

The following year, Frank visited another orthopedic specialist and subsequently underwent surgery on March 7, 2011. During the surgery, the orthopedic surgeon found corrosion of the Zimmer hip components. According to the surgeon, the failure of the device was the cause of the plaintiff’s ongoing pain.

Since the plaintiff was not reasonably aware that his pain was the result of an allegedly faulty Zimmer hip device until March 2011 and his lawsuit was filed in March 2012, the Judge ruled that dismissal of the motion for summary judgment was in order. The Judge noted the doctrine of contra non valentem agere nulla currit praescriptio “prevents the running of liberative prescription where the cause of action is not known or reasonably knowable by the plaintiff.”

Zimmer hip devices linked to significant side effects

Frank isn’t the only plaintiff who has filed a Zimmer hip lawsuit. Many patients have complained of significant pain and reduced mobility from the devices. Zimmer hip implants have also been linked to corrosion, loosening of components, and premature failure of the devices, leading to the need for revision surgery. It’s common for plaintiffs filing lawsuits with regard to the Zimmer devices to allege that the implants are defective and unreasonably dangerous, and that they were not adequately warned of the potential risks.