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Bellwether Zimmer Hip Trial Begins in Illinois

lawyer and jurorsThe first Zimmer Durom Cup lawsuit trial began in Illinois’ St. Clair County Circuit Court last week. The trial marks the first of an estimated 350 claims brought against Zimmer, which temporarily halted Durom Cup hip replacement sales in 2008.

The Illinois state court panel is hearing the bellwether case of John Pugliese, who received the Durom Cup in 2008, but alleges that shortly after implantation he began suffering incapacitating side effects that warranted early revision surgery.

Zimmer is just one of several orthopedic manufacturers that is facing litigation over severe hip replacement complications and high failure rates. Zimmer hip lawsuits argue that the Durom Cup is defectively designed and can loosen prematurely, causing extreme pain and the need for corrective surgery.

First Zimmer Durom Cup lawsuit goes to trial

The bulk of federally filed Durom Cup litigation against Zimmer has been consolidated in a New Jersey court for more streamlined discovery processes, enabling the sharing of resources and reducing the chance of inconsistent rulings. The Zimmer Durom Cup MDL was established in 2010, and assigned to the honorable District Judge Susan D. Wigenton.

Claimants contend that Zimmer put profits ahead of public safety, and failed to adequately warn patients about potential Durom Cup problems, including those that prompted the temporary suspension of sales. Though Zimmer never issued a formal Durom Cup recall on the device, plaintiffs joined under MDL 2158 argue that the prosthesis is prone to loosening, can cause metallosis, adverse tissue reactions, inflammation and excruciating pain.

Furthermore, those that have filed a Zimmer Durom Cup lawsuit argue that the defendant should be held liable for intentionally misrepresenting the safety and durability of the hip replacement, given that post-market reports suggest failure rates of 20 to 30 percent.

Following John Pugliese’s Zimmer hip trial in Illinois, a second case is slated to be heard in Los Angeles Superior Court. That lawsuit was filed by 58 year-old Gary Kline, who had the Durom Acetubular Cup surgically implanted in 2007, and taken out just one year later owing to early hip failure.

Federal Zimmer hip trial begins soon

In New Jersey federal court, jurors may be chosen by this coming April to hear the first bellwether case. These early trials are frequently utilized as litmus tests that may help predict how jurors will respond to testimony and evidence shared among many hundreds of plaintiffs. Large verdicts for the plaintiffs may trigger mediation efforts and additional Durom Cup settlements, or the defendant may choose to fight each case individually.

Zimmer’s quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in November 2012 revealed that the company had already shelled out more than $380 million to plaintiffs who had experienced problems with the Durom Cup implant.

When lawsuits are centralized under multidistrict litigation, or multi-county litigation in state court, each case is treated separately, allowing plaintiffs the right to his or her own trial and verdict.

Plaintiffs represented by Zimmer hip lawyers are demanding monetary compensation to cover costs associated with past and future hospital and medical bills, revision surgery, lost income, diminished earning capacity, loss of spousal consortium and other damages.

  1. National Law Journal,Curtain Rising Monday in Bellwether Hip Device Trial

  2. Zimmer (August 2008), Urgent Device Correction Update

  3. Zimmer (July 2008), Background on Zimmer Durom Cup Status,