Plaintiff got the better end of a split decision ruling by the court last week in a Wright Medical ProFemur hip lawsuit. Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was denied, keeping the case alive.
The plaintiff in this case is a seventy-five year old blueberry farmer who needed a total hip arthroplasty. His right hip joint was replaced with a ProFemur hip implant, which included a ProFemur Plasma-Z Modular Femoral Stem and ProFemur Neck. Three years later, the neck fractured where it entered the stem, requiring the plaintiff to undergo revision surgery.
Wright sought summary judgment on the plaintiff’s key claims: design defect and failure to warn. Plaintiff’s expert report defeated summary judgment because it found that Wright unreasonably dismissed an alternative safer design when creating the ProFemur hip implant. Plaintiff’s expert argued that Wright should have used cobalt-chrome alloys instead of titanium alloys in its hip replacement because it knew (or should have known) that cobalt-chrome alloys have a higher fatigue strength, lower sensitivity to notching, and are not as prone to corrosion fatigue. Plaintiff’s expert also believes that Wright should have used low plasticity burnishing or laser shock peening, to improve the ProFemur hip implant’s fatigue strength and inhibit crack formation and propagation.
Wright found flaws in the expert’s report because it discussed only one risk-utility factor, an alternative feasible and safer design. But the court found that Wright did not demonstrate the absence of any evidence that the product as designed is defective. Wright is welcome to make that argument at trial but, ultimately, this will be cross-examination for a jury to consider.
Wright also made a silly argument for judgment alleging that the plaintiff admits that he actually received the warning from Wright on the product. The question on the failure to warn claims is not whether the warning was communicated to the plaintiff, but whether the warning was adequate.
If you or a loved one has suffered from a failed or fractured Profemur Z hip implant, get a free case review at 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line Profemur Z hip implant case evaluation.