A judge awarded $2 million in damages to an Albuquerque man whose defective hip implant caused metal poisoining, and attorney Marie Napoli says that the verdict significantly increased the settlement value of these cases.
When Brian McDonald had hip replacement surgery in 2010, he expressed misgivings about the Zimmer artificial hip his doctors wanted to use. But after they assured Mr. McDonald that the manufacturer had corrected earlier problems, he went ahead with the sugery. Indeed, Zimmer had addressed the ball-and-socket issue, but another part of the defective hip implant still caused metallosis. “[T]he hip implant gives off metal debris and gets in the muscle’s tissue and, in my case, basically killed it,” Mr. McDonald explained. Three surgeries later, he has still not recovered all his mobility, and doctors do not believe that Mr. McDonald will ever be able to run or play sports again. Furthermore, according to his doctors, his infection has gone into remission but it will probably never entirely go away. Second Judicial District Chief Judge Nan Nash said he took all these factors into consideration when delivering his verdict.
This verdict is believed to be the first one to address defective hip implants which Zimmer tried to fix up and resell.
Artifical Hips and Metal Poisoning
A judge recently appointed Marie Napoli to a plaintiffs’ steering committee in defective hip implant lawsuits, so she has a lot of knowledge to share. She said that victims often win substantial compensation in these cases because the chain of events is easy for the jury to follow and the story line has all the classic defective product elements. In fact, in December 2016, a Dallas jury awarded $1 billion to six plaintiffs in a metallosis lawsuit.
Ms. Napoli explained that the hip has lots of moving parts, and as these parts rub together, they release microscopic shavings into the bloodstream. Organic bone matter from a natural hip is no problem at all, but a release of metal fragments causes metallosis, and the metal poisoning kills almost any tissue it comes in contact with. If the metal fragments travel to internal organs, metallosis can even be fatal.
The background goes even further, Ms. Napoli said. When metal-on-metal (“MoM”) hip implants were first designed, most people over 65 were somewhat inactive so they did not put as much stress or wear and tear on the artificial joint. That’s no longer the case, and the cheaply-made MoM defective hip implants simply cannot withstand the strain, no matter what the manufacturer does to “improve” them.
Largely due to the rigorous vetting process, the manufacturer is often the first entity to know about possible product defects. At that point, companies have already invested so much in the process that they often either suppress negative findings or, like Zimmer, slap together quick fixes to cover up the product defect.
Punitive damages are designed to address just this sort of misconduct. To obtain them, the victim/plaintiff must present clear and convincing evidence of “spite or malice or other evil motive on the part of the defendant, and a conscious and deliberate disregard of the plaintiff’s interests so that the conduct could be called willful or wanton.”
In plain English, the company must put profits before people by making a conscious decision that making money is more important than people’s health.
Defective hip implant victims are usually entitled to significant compensation. For a free consultation with Marie Napoli or another experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. Our main office is conveniently located near Grand Central Terminal.