Pennsylvania Appellate Court Reverses $28 Million Damages Award in Zimmer Knee Replacement Case

leg with braceIn June 2016, an appellate court in Pennsylvania ordered a lower court to reverse its order granting $28 million in damages to a plaintiff who sustained injuries associated with a Zimmer-Biomet brand knee implant device. According to the complaint, the plaintiff was injured when she filmed a promotional video for Zimmer. She had received a knee replacement in 2006, using one of its Gender Solutions devices. In the video, she was instructed to engage in a variety of physical activities, including riding a bike and running on a treadmill.

The complaint contained causes of action for negligence, alleging that as a result of the commercial the plaintiff required three revision surgeries. Her husband also filed a cause of action for loss of consortium. To prevail in a cause of action involving a medical device on a negligence theory, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the manufacturer owed the plaintiff a duty of care, that the manufacturer breached that duty, and that the plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of the breach. In general, product manufacturers owe a duty to consumers to use reasonable care when designing, manufacturing, and marketing their products. This includes providing appropriate warnings and instructions about the safe use of a product.

After the trial, the jury returned a verdict awarding the plaintiff damages, allocating 34% of the fault for her injuries to Zimmer. They also assessed 30% of the fault to the plaintiff and 36% of fault to the marketing agency that was involved with designing and producing the commercial. The defendants appealed. The Pennsylvania Superior Court concluded that the trial court erred when it shifted the burden of proof to Zimmer. The trial court instructed Zimmer that it needed to provide alternative reasons regarding why the plaintiff required subsequent revision surgeries after the trial. As a result, the jury could have falsely concluded that Zimmer was liable unless it could provide an alternative rationale. Under a negligence theory, however, the plaintiff had the burden of proving that Zimmer breached its duty to the plaintiff in the design, manufacture, or marketing of the knee implant device.

The appellate court also noted that while it believed the plaintiffs were entitled to some level of recovery for their injuries, the award of $26 million to the plaintiff and $1 million to her husband in loss of consortium damages was excessive, based on the evidence in the record. The court remanded the case and ordered a new trial for the plaintiffs.

If you have suffered injuries after using or receiving a medical device, you may bring a negligence or product liability claim against the manufacturer to recover compensation. At Moll Law Group, our Biomet attorneys have provided seasoned legal counsel to injured victims throughout the United States, including in Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois. We understand how intimidating the legal process may seem and provide a free consultation to assist you with investigating your claim and identifying the potential causes of action that you may be able to assert. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your appointment.

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