Knee Replacement Lawsuit

specialist watching image of knees and lower limbs at x-ray film viewer

More than half of Americans will develop knee osteoarthritis to some degree during the course of a lifetime. By 2030, U.S. surgeons will perform an estimated 3.5 million knee replacements per year. For patients suffering from crippling bone-on-bone pain and limited mobility, a total knee replacement offers the potential for a more active, comfortable life. While 90 percent of patients notice immediate relief, up to one-third of all patients will end up experiencing pain and regret. If you are one of these individuals, you may be considering a knee replacement lawsuit.

To some extent, younger patients are simply outliving the 15 to 20-year lifespan of their replacement knees. However, in many other cases, doctors and their patients were not adequately warned about known risks associated with these implants. Manufacturers failed to conduct appropriate clinical trials to ensure safety and instead paid aggressive marketers to recommend new knees for patients who could have benefited just as well from physical therapy, over-the-counter pain relief, and dietary changes.

Thousands of these medical devices have been recalled from the market and named in lawsuits. When you or a loved one suffer injury due to a product defect or failure to warn, The People’s Trial Lawyer™, Bart Bernard, will fight for you to receive fair compensation.

Primary Knee Replacement Complications

Even if you have one of the recalled knee replacement devices, you may find that it works perfectly well. However, signs that something is going wrong with the implant may include some or all of the following:

  • Blood clots in the lower leg
  • Bone degeneration (osteolysis)
  • Bruising of the knee
  • Chronic swelling
  • Device particle shedding
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dislocation of the knee joint
  • Implant fracture or breakage
  • Inflammation
  • Joint infections
  • Loosening of the implant
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage
  • Severe pain and stiffness
  • Weakening of bones around the implant

Some of these adverse events can be life-threatening. Approximately 1 in 400 patients die within 30 days of initial knee replacement surgery. When complications arise, revision surgery has been necessary for 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women to address the source of the problem and replace defective components. Secondary surgeries are almost always more invasive than the first and carry greater risks of infection, device failure, scarring, longer recoveries, and residual pain.

Knee Implant Manufacturers

Any manufacturer can be sued for a knee replacement injury, but the most common products that form the basis of lawsuits are:

  • Stryker knee replacement – Stryker ShapeMatch Cutting Guides were designed to help surgeons position Triathlon and Scorpio knee replacement devices before cutting, but they were recalled in 2012 when manufacturing defects were identified. Surgeries using these guides resulted in joint instability, fracture, pain, and limited mobility.
  • Zimmer knee replacement – The Persona system’s Trabecular Metal Tibial Plate that fits overtop the shin was recalled in 2015 after reports of problems leading to revision surgery. They also recalled a tool that surgeons used during knee replacement call the Persona Tibial Articular Surface Provisional Shim. Other voluntarily recalled components in their NexGen knee replacement system include the MIS Tibial components (2010, due to loosening), the NexGen LPS femoral components (2010, due to manufacturing defects), and the NexGen Complete Knee Solution (2014, due to defective screws).
  • DePuy knee replacement – DePuy gained FDA approval for the Attune Knee System in 2010 through the controversial 510(k) fast-track approval program. However, the FDA sent a warning letter to DePuy, warning that parts of the knee replacement system were changed without approval, causing pain and increased risk of revision surgery. Attune was recalled in June of 2015. A 2017 study found the Attune devices had a high rate of loosening along the tibial-cement surface, which caused patients to suffer pain and decreased range of motion within two years. More than 1,000 reports flooded the FDA’s adverse event reporting system.
  • Biomet knee replacement – Biomet merged with Zimmer in 2015. They recalled the Regenerex 3 Peg Series A Patella kneecap components of the Vanguard CR knee replacement system in 2017. It was discovered that the pegs could break off, causing loosening and filling the joint with metal debris. 

Lawsuits over the last few years include newer products like the Arthrex “iBalance Knee,” the B. Braun “Advanced Surface Ceramic Coated Knees,” and the Exactech “Optetrack Knee.”

Plaintiffs are suing these manufacturers because:

  • They marketed the implant as “safe” and “effective,” though they knew that was false.
  • They allowed defects in manufacturing to go unchecked and be put into unknowing patients.
  • They failed to design a safe product that was adequately tested before releasing it to market.
  • They failed to warn consumers about known defects, potential harm, and contraindications.

FDA Knee Replacement Recalls

There have been more knee replacement recalls over the years than we can publish here. In rare cases, the FDA mandates a recall. More often than not, their warnings or reports of injury surfacing prompt the manufacturers to voluntarily recall their own products. The best way to know for sure if you were implanted with a recall product is to search the FDA’s database of medical device recalls.

Multidistrict Litigation Status

Despite the fact that there are thousands of lawsuits filed in district courts across the country, the only consolidated multi-district litigation (MDL) to date was the Zimmer NexGen Knee Implant, MDL #2272. In February 2018, a confidential settlement was announced to settle the remaining cases out of the 1,800 originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer. Many of these cases were dismissed, so it’s unclear how many cases were resolved or how much the plaintiffs received.

Once cases get consolidated into MDLs, the proceedings move much faster through the courts, taking advantage of streamlined discovery and early bellwether trials that explore the strengths and weaknesses of common arguments. Each case in MDL is judged based on individual merit, which is unlike class action lawsuits which pay a smaller but equal sum of money to every plaintiff listed in the suit.

The knee replacement lawsuit litigation is still in the early stages of consolidation, so now is a good time to get involved.

In years past, one of the largest knee replacement settlements was a $1 billion payment in 2002 to resolve over 4,000 hip and knee implants manufactured by Sulzer Medica. Plaintiffs averaged settlements of $200,000, according to the NY Times. In this case, the parts had been shipped with an oily residue on the implants that prevented bone adhesion and caused premature loosening.     

Learn More About Knee Replacement Lawsuits

Get it Done Right™. Call Bart Bernard for information on filing a knee replacement lawsuit. Your first consultation is always free. If we accept your case, you pay nothing upfront and only pay the standard legal fee if and when we recover money on your behalf.

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