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Litigation

California Jury Awards $2.5 Million In Wright Medical Technology Profemur R Hip Case

LOS ANGELES — (Mealey’s) A California state court jury on June 12 found that the femoral stem of a Wright Medical Technology Inc. Profemur R hip prosthesis was defectively manufactured and ordered the manufacturer to pay $2.5 million to a patient and his wife for pain, suffering and loss of consortium (Alan Warner, et al. v. Brad L. Penenberg, M.D., et al., No. BC 475958, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.). 

The jury in the Los Angeles County Superior Court found that the Profemur R device was defectively manufactured and that the defect was a substantial factor in causing harm to plaintiff Alan Warner.  The jury awarded nothing for past medical damages but awarded $2 million for past pain and suffering. 

The jury also awarded no damages for future medical expenses but awarded $2 million for future pain and suffering. 

The jury found that Warner’s wife, Patricia, suffered a loss of consortium and awarded her $500,000 in damages. 

No Design Defect

The jury found that the hip device was not defectively designed. 

The jury voted 9-3 on the manufacturing defect, causation, pain and suffering and consortium claims. 

In 2010, Alan Warner had a failed hip implant replaced with the Profemur R device.  Two years later, the stem of the device, which goes deep into the femur, broke. 

Etching Or Poor Fit?

Counsel for Warner told the jury at the start of the eight-day trial that the fracture occurred at a laser-etched proximity mark on the femur stem, which is placed deep into a patient’s femur during hip replacement surgery. 

Counsel for Wright Medical told the jury that Warner suffered from poor bone quality, as evidenced by his original hip fracture and the failure of his first device.  The company also said that the fracture occurred because of poor “fit and fill” for the stem. 

The jury was told that the failure by the implanting physician to assure proximate fixation caused the stem to move back and forth like a windshield wiper and fracture. 

Experts

Expert witnesses included Reed Ayers, Ph.D., Brad James, Ph.D., Jorge Ochoa, Ph.D., Myron Stachniw, M.D., Mari Truman and Russell Windsor, M.D. 

Judge Michael Harwin presided. 

Warner is represented by Steven R. Vartarzarian of the Vartarzarian Law Firm in Sherman Oaks, Calif., and George E. McLaughlin of the Warshauer-McLaughlin Law Group in Denver. 

Wright Medical is represented by David C. Van Dyke, Michael V. Kell, Michael O. Fawaz, Tiffany Carpenter and Van Dyke of Howard & Howard in Royal Oak, Mich., and Michael L. Kirby and Micaela P. Banach of Kirby Noonan Lance Hoge in San Diego.

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