Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Device maker sued by Pennsylvania patient for faulty implant

Defective medical devices are the source of unnecessary pain and costly corrective surgeries for tens of thousands of patients in Pittsburgh and across the country. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimates a 10 percent failure rate among hip and knee implants, many due to device flaws. About 1.2 million of these surgeries are performed each year, with predictions the procedures will increase to 4 million by 2030.

The Safe Patient Project is a program through Consumers Reports' policy division, aimed at getting knee and hip implant manufacturers to include warranties with their products. Every leading manufacturer of these devices has been forced to recall defective implants during the last decade. Mandatory warranties would hold manufacturers accountable for defective products and force implant makers to pay for replacements.

A Pennsylvania man recently filed a products liability lawsuit against a Midwestern knee implant maker. The lawsuit accused Zimmer Inc. and two subsidiaries of negligence for making an implant that fell apart, shifted or cracked as the plaintiff was walking. The defect forced the Montgomery County patient to have the implant replaced.

The strict liability claim stated Zimmer knew or should have been aware of the risks for making a faulty device. The plaintiff's claim said the defective implant and subsequent revision surgery caused lasting pain, scar tissue accumulation and financial losses. The patient's ability to work was diminished and he was saddled with medical expenses for the second surgery and rehabilitative treatment.

Zimmer is blamed for failing to use reasonable care during the knee implant design and manufacturing process. The complaint asserted the company marketed the device as a safe product but instead sold a flawed one. Damages include a breach of warranty.

A well-made knee or hip implant can perform without incident for up to 20 years. Patients injured by implants may not have warranty protection, but they can be compensated for manufacturer negligence through legal actions.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Zimmer sued by Pa. man over allegedly defective artificial knee implant" Jon Campisi, Mar. 09, 2014

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