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$89 Million Rids Wright Medical of Metal-on-Metal Hip Lawsuits

Walter Eisner • Mon, October 9th, 2017

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Wright Medical Technology, Inc. (WMT) and plaintiffs in the Conserve metal-on-metal hip litigation have agreed on a "comprehensive" settlement to settle almost all the last claims against the company.

The settlement comes after a patient won an $11 million federal bellwether trial in Atlanta in November 2015.

$89 Million

In an October 3, 2017 SEC filing, the company said its maximum liability will not exceed $89.75 million. The settlement is contingent on availability of new insurance proceeds from the company's insurance carriers, expected to be $35 million.

The payouts will come in three tranches. The first for $7.9 million for certain claimants, the second for $5.1 for the oldest claims, and $76.75 million for the rest. The final payment is scheduled for September 2019.

Eligibility

For patients to be eligible for settlement they must have a claim filed and pending and received and undergone the revision of the cup, the head, the liner, or some combination thereof, of one of the following metal-on-metal articulating bearing surface product configurations:

(a) A CONSERVE® acetabular cup paired with a CONSERVE® cobalt chromium femoral head;
(b) A DYNASTY® acetabular cup and metal liner paired with a CONSERVE® cobalt chromium femoral head; or
(c) A LINEAGE® acetabular cup and metal liner paired with a LINEAGE® or CONSERVE® cobalt chromium femoral head.

In the two-week bellwether trial, the jury awarded $11 million to Robyn Christiansen, a retired ski instructor implanted with the Conserve metal-on-metal hip implant made by the company. Christiansen received $1 million in compensatory damages and a whopping $10 million in punitive damages.

Prior to the settlement, there were approximately 629 claims that were eligible, and approximately 710 claims (of which 630 are non-revisions) that were ineligible, to participate in the comprehensive settlement. There were also approximately 47 claims pending in U.S. courts and approximately 65 claims pending in non-U.S. courts that will not be included under the agreement.

Metal-on-Metal Controversy

Metal-on-metal hips became controversial after foreign registries showed higher than normal failure rates. In May 2011, the FDA ordered manufacturers of the devices to conduct postmarket surveillance.

Thousands of lawsuits were filed against the largest manufacturers by patients who alleged they were injury from the implants. The multi-district cases, in addition to Wright Medical's, at one point included:

  • Zimmer Holding’s Durom Hip Cup (290 filed cases)
  • DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.'s ASR Hip Implant (8, 858 filed cases)
  • DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.'s Pinnacle Hip Implant (5, 153 filed cases)
  • Biomet, Inc.'s M2a Magnum Hip Implant (978 filed cases)

DePuy reached a multi-billion-dollar settlement with patients implanted with the ASR system.

Wright Medical sold its hip and knee implant business to China-based MicroPort Medical in 2013 for $290 million. With this settlement, the company can focus exclusively on its successful products in the extremities and biologics market.

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