What Is My Defective Implant Case Worth?

If you feel you may have a case against the manufacturer of a hip or knee implant, it’s natural to wonder what your case may be worth. The honest answer is that it is difficult at the outset to know what a case may be worth, because there are so many factors which will contribute to your economic recovery. The type of knee or hip implant is important. For example, did you have a total hip replacement or a partial hip replacement? Same with the knee, was it a total knee replacement or a partial knee replacement? Why did you initially have the knee or hip replaced? Was it due to a hip fracture, a knee injury, or was it an arthritis treatment, or some other reason? Other factors that can affect your case includes: whether there was a recall, the type and extent of the injury suffered, patient age and relative health, and whether there was additional surgery or not. Following are just some examples of defective knee and hip replacement cases our office has handled (note our clients’ names have been removed from the summaries in order to protect their privacy):

Hip Replacement Case Summary:

Our client was a 62 year old single woman who lives alone in a small home in Quincy Florida, where she lived her whole life. Prior to her first hip replacement surgery, her primary activities were working, going to church, and occasionally playing tennis.

In 1987, she began experiencing pain in her hip, pain which became severe. She was diagnosed with avascular necrosis of her hip, and it was recommended that she have her hip joint replaced. In June 1988, she underwent a total hip replacement.

Her total hip implant lasted about 7 years, although she was in a great deal of pain for the last 2-3 years. Finally, as a result of the failure of defendant’s defective hip implant, our client was forced to undergo three major revision surgeries to replace defective components and to correct and reconstruct the extensive damage they caused. She was required to undergo intense rehabilitative physical therapy. For months she was unable to work as a school bus, playground and classroom attendant. Eventually she was forced to retire due to her constant pain.

The failure of her hip implants was caused by excessive polyethylene (plastic) debris which had broken and/or worn off of the implant device. This resulted in particulate induced synovitus and osteolysis that ate away at her healthy bone. The defective joint implant group at Keefe Law Firm filed a products liability action against the manufacturer of our clients’ implant. After a hard fought litigation in Federal Court, the case was settled for $340,000.

Knee Replacement Case Summary #1:

Our office represented a 65 year old woman who underwent unicompartmental knee arthroplasty for osteoarthritis of the medial compartment of her left knee. She is a wonderful, loving, southern lady who takes pride in her homemaking, her family and her church. Her surgery was in January 2000.
What neither she nor her doctors knew was that the particular medical implant device implanted in her was sterilized in 1993, using a process known as gamma irradiation in air, and that it sat on the shelf for 6 1/2 years. When one of these devices sits on the shelf for a prolonged period of time, the plastic components can begin to break down.

By March, 2000, only three months after this defective device was implanted, she was experiencing pain in her left knee and lower left extremity. By September, X-rays demonstrated wear of the tibial insert (the plastic component), and she was experiencing swelling, pain over the anterior and posterior aspect of her knee, and difficulty standing up and walking up or down stairs. She underwent a total left knee revision (implant replacement surgery) in May, 2001.

We filed suit against the manufacturer of the knee implant device, alleging that it was strict liability under the New Jersey Products Liability Act as well as common law fraud. We sought damages for the pain and suffering she endured up to the removal of the defective knee implant, her rehabilitation after this second surgery (which was a full knee replacement instead of a unicompartmental replacement), and for the pain and suffering and permanent limitations she will suffer from for the rest of her life. This case settled before trial for $235,000.

Knee Replacement Case Summary #2:

Our client suffered from degenerative joint disease of his left knee. He had several arthroscopies and Synvisic injections. The pain in his left knee kept increasing and he had persistent recurring effusions despite conservative treatment. X-rays showed osteoarthritis, part of his knee was actually bone on bone. Our client was advised by his doctor that the next likely step was a knee replacement. He decided in favor of the surgery, and had a left total knee replacement in April of 2003.

Unfortunately, his knee implant was defectively designed, and the micro texture coating designed to promote bone growth did not work. The results were disastrous. Less than a year later, after a great deal of pain and suffering, our client was admitted to Hackensack University Medical Center in February of 2004 for a revision (replacement surgery) of total knee arthroplasty for mechanical complications of the implant.

Our client was left with a knee that is still in constant pain. It is improved since his surgery but has still not totally abated. At times he uses a cane to walk, and it is likely that his condition will not improve, in fact it will only worsen. We filed suit against the manufacturer of the defective knee implant, alleging that it was designed improperly and that defective design led to the device’s premature failure. This case settled prior to trial for $170,000.

Bilateral Knee Replacement Case Summary #3:

Our client was a 66 year old woman who suffered from degenerative arthritis of both knees, left greater than right. As a result, she agreed to bilateral total knee replacements in July of 2003.

Subsequently, she developed significant pain and weakness in both legs and numbness in her thighs. Her orthopedist ordered her on a home exercise program and prescribed Percocet for her pain. Unfortunately, neither time nor physical therapy resolved her muscular pain and weakness in and around her knees.

Due to the immense pain and limitations she was experiencing, our client underwent a revision surgery in June 2004, where her doctor replaced the femoral component in her left knee. In his Operative Report, her doctor observed that the femoral component had actually fallen off the distal femur. It was later that she and her doctor learned that this implant was defective in its design, and was eventually recalled by the manufacturer.

After surgery, she was transferred to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation. Today, our client continues to have severe pain in her left knee that has resulted in her favoring of this leg while walking. She suffers bilateral ankle pain and developed a partial tear of the peroneus longus tendon in her right foot. Due to the pain in her feet, she is unable to ambulate with a walker and has to use a wheel chair.

We filed a complaint against the manufacturer of the recalled knee implant, alleging that it was defective and that those defects resulted in the failure of the implant and the need for additional surgery. This case settled before trial in the amount of $275,000.

Knee Replacement Case Summary #4:

Our client underwent a total knee replacement on his right knee in June of 1997, as he suffered from degenerative joint disease. This did not alleviate his symptoms, in fact they worsened, and eventually, in June of 2004, he was forced to undergo a revision surgery.

During that surgery, the surgeon noted the presence of osteolysis, a condition where the body thinks it is fighting an infection and actually attacks and erodes healthy bone. This condition is often indicative of the plastic components of the implant breaking down prematurely. The body, in attempting to rid itself of these little pieces of plastic, eats away the surrounding bone. This implant was defective.

A lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer of this implant, alleging that the implant device was designed and manufactured in a defective manner. The manufacturer of this implant settled the matter for $90,000.

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