Medical device maker Zimmer must pay $7.68 million in damages to a man injured by its Durom Cup metal-on-metal hip implant, the law firm that represented the plaintiff said on Friday.
The award came in a retrial of the damages case. In the first trial, the jury awarded $9.2 million but the award was overturned on appeal when a judge in Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled the jury reached a "hasty and excessive" verdict.
Zimmer has now paid more than $400 million in metal-on-metal hip implant cases but still expects to pay out around $130 million more in relation to lawsuits involving Durom Cup and similar devices sold by its Biomet unit.
Zimmer suspended sales of Durom Cup in the U.S. in 2008 amid complaints about a high failure rate. The company subsequently faced product liability lawsuits around the world. Plaintiffs in those cases typically sought personal injury damages on the grounds that defects in Durom Cup caused complications and premature revision of the device.
The case that ended last week centered on the experiences of Gary Kline, who underwent two hip replacement surgeries within 15 months as a result of problems he experienced following the first procedure. A jury found Zimmer and its Durom Cup liable for Kline's later health issues in 2015 but the damages it awarded were overturned on appeal.
That led to the damages-only retrial that concluded last week. The jury found Kline has suffered $3.6 million in non-economic losses and will suffer even more losses in the future. The damages award of $7.68 million is about 15% less than the original award.
The case and other product liability suits targeting metal-on-metal hip implants relate to what FDA calls the unique risks associated with the devices. One problem with the class of implants, which includes products sold by companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Zimmer, is that interactions between two metal components of the devices can cause the release of particles. These metal particles can enter the bloodstream. FDA has also said parts of the implants are at risk of eroding.
Those issues have had significant consequences for individuals, companies and the wider medtech sector. In May, Bloomberg reported that Johnson & Johnson had agreed to pay around $1 billion to resolve most of the product liability cases related to its Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant.
Zimmer has settled most of the metal-on-metal implant cases against it. In its results for the quarter ended 30 June, Zimmer said it had recognized a net expense of $443 million for claims related to Durom Cup claims since the lawsuits began in 2008, leaving it with an estimated $73.5 million still to pay.
Concerns about the safety of metal-on-metal hip implants also influenced changes to how medical devices are regulated in the European Union. As the draft legislation was advancing through the EU machinery, medical devices rapporteur Glenis Willmott said "the metal-on-metal hip scandal highlighted weaknesses in the current system," leading legislators to propose "much stricter requirements for the bodies that authorize medical devices."