Hip replacement manufacturer sued in St. Clair County

Kelly Holleran Apr. 13, 2009, 7:24am

Forty-two people from across the United States are suing a hip replacement manufacturer over injuries they say they sustained after an alleged defective device was placed into their bodies.

Plaintiffs filed suit April 8 against Zimmer in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

John J. Driscoll of St. Louis and Christopher Cueto of Belleville will be representing them.

They say they suffered in agony after they experienced cup failures months after routine hip replacement surgery.

All of the plaintiffs had a Zimmer Durom Hip Resurfacing System implanted into their bodies.

Problems with the system first became known to the public in April 2008 when renowned Los Angeles surgeon Dr. Lawerence Dorr warned orthopedists about cup failures in his patients, according to the complaint.

After Dorr revealed the information, other doctors reported similar problems.

"According to Dr. Dorr and other physicians, x-rays of patients who received the Defective Device showed that the socket was separating from bone, rather than fusing with it," the suit states.

Early in 2008, Dorr reported his concerns to executives at Zimmer, the plaintiffs say. However, the executives blamed Dorr's surgical techniques on the problems his patients were experiencing.

Plaintiffs contend Dorr is " a veteran of more than 5,000 hip replacement surgeries, [and] is one of the most renowned surgeons in the world."

After Dorr took his concerns to the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, Zimmer finally announced it was investigating Dorr's complaints. Still, the company did not suspend sales as doctors recommended.

Zimmer's own investigations revealed Durom System failure rates as high as 5.7 percent at some clinics, the complaint says.

Because of their ongoing problems with the Durom System, plaintiffs claim they take pain medication for their constant pain. They also incurred medical, monitoring, rehabilitative and pharmaceutical expenses and may have lost income, lost opportunity, lost family and social relationships and may have been prevented from pursuing their normal activities, they say.

"Defendants placed tens of thousands of patients, including Plaintiffs, unnecessarily at risk of serious injury and/or death and may have caused them to suffer personal injuries and harm, including medical expenses, anxiety and fear induced from the implantation of this defective device," the suit states.

Zimmer represented its product as safe to customers. However, it failed to conduct sufficient testing, failed to include adequate warnings about potential risks and serious side effects and failed to advise the FDA, the health care industry and the public about adverse reports it had received.

In the 44-count suit, the plaintiffs are seeking a judgment in excess of $2.15 million, plus costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just.

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