One of the first bellweather trials in the Wright Medical metallic hip implant litigation went to trial earlier this month, and the jury returned a verdict of $1 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. A bellweather trial is part of a multi-district litigation (MDL). Like a lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, the bellweather plaintiff’s claim is used to test the legitimacy of the plaintiffs’ claims and to help the parties get some picture of what common issues of law, fact, and damages might look like for the other claimants in the MDL.
In a product liability action, the plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant’s product was defective. This can be done in two ways: by showing that the product bears an unreasonably dangerous design, or by showing that the particular device that the plaintiff received suffered a manufacturing defect that rendered the product unreasonably dangerous.
The jury concluded that the metal hip implant device was defectively designed and that the defendant was negligent in misrepresenting to the plaintiffs the lifespan of the device. According to the jury, the defendant was aware and recklessly indifferent in how it designed, marketed, and sold the device. In Utah, where the bellweather trial took place, the standard for punitive damages requires a plaintiff to prove that the defendant acted with reckless indifference.
In this action, the plaintiff was a former ski instructor who filed a product liability claim against the defendant, alleging that her Conserve hip implant device had become loose and was causing her to suffer tissue damage. She received the implant in 2006 and selected the Wright Medical device after reading marketing literature provided by the company that indicated the metal device was better than comparable polyethylene liners. The literature specifically indicated that the metal device was intended to last longer than the other polyethylene devices available on the market.
Eventually, the plaintiff needed to have the metal hip implant device removed. During surgery, the doctors found shards of metal debris in the plaintiff’s soft tissue near the site where the device had been implanted.
Hundreds of other lawsuits alleging similar damages have been filed against Wright Medical over its metallic hip implant devices, which were eventually consolidated in MDL 2329. With the first bellweather trial completed, the defense may pursue settlement negotiations with the lead plaintiffs’ team to resolve the litigation before another bellweather trial proceeds. The results of the bellweather trial will be used to guide the parties in any settlement negotiations. There is a chance, however, that the defendant will appeal the $10 million punitive damages award.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries after receiving a Wright Medical Conserve hip implant device, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, we have represented many defective medical device victims throughout the United States, including in California, Texas, New York, and Illinois. We know just how devastating and debilitating these types of injuries can be. We guide our clients through every step of the litigation, whether that be settlement, trial, or inclusion in the MDL. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your free consultation today.