Zimmer Biomet denied new trial in $3.5M defective hip replacement suit

Orthopedic

An Iowa woman will keep her $3.55 million jury award after a federal court denied a new trial request from devicemaker Biomet, now known as Zimmer Biomet, the Des Moines Register reported Aug. 26.

Lori Nicholson of Fort Dodge had a total hip replacement with a metal-on-metal Biomet M2a Magnum implant in 2007, but afterward she experienced pain and suffered a cyst on her hip, the report said. Her surgeon said the metal-on-metal wear was releasing metal ions into her body, loosening the joint and contributing to the cyst, and her blood showed six times the normal level of chromium.

In 2011, she underwent a second surgery to replace the first implant with a metal-on-plastic device, the report said. Ms. Nicholson sued Biomet two years later for defective design, and in 2020 a jury awarded her $1.05 million in compensatory damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages, finding the company displayed a "willful and wanton reckless disregard" for patient safety.

Biomet emails introduced at trial showed one company official responding to a physician's suggestion for further testing "could be (sic) sales to a halt," the report said. Another email showed an administrator telling employees to "not accept delays" on projects important for the company's bottom line.

The lawsuit was one of thousands nationwide related to the M2a Magnum implant, the report said. More than 90 percent of plaintiffs in the lawsuits accepted a 2014 settlement offer that amounted to approximately $200,000 per case.

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