In October 2020, Zachary L. Wool tried a case for three weeks in the Eastern District of Missouri that resulted in a $21 million verdict for the firm’s clients. The case involved a defective metal-on-metal hip replacement device designed and manufactured by Biomet, then one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturers.
The original metal-on-metal hip replacements — from the 1920’s — were made of metal, and the results were horrific. The hip replacement surgery was seen as a surgery of last resort. However, in the 1960’s as material science advanced, metal-on-poly devices were developed (known as the low frictional torque arthroplasty). This advancement turned the hip replacement surgery into “the surgery of the century.”
Despite metal-on-poly (a form of plastic) devices being the gold standard from the 1960’s to the present, some medical device manufacturers – including Biomet – decided to return to the failed past. And this happened…
Biomet decided to bring back metal-on-metal hip replacement devices with a new line that culminated in a device known as the M2a-Magnum. The problem? Biomet never tested the device in a human before selling the first one; the first recipient was unknowingly a guinea pig. And the only testing in a machine that Biomet did do failed to actually test for human movement.
As Biomet’s own employees admitted, Biomet’s testing did not test for these human movements:
The result of this failed product — which is now illegal to sell in the United States — was a client with a hip that is totally destroyed. After the defective device was put in, she had to have 7 other hip replacement surgeries and she has dislocated her hip more than a dozen times. There is no surgery that can be done to replace all of the dead tissue in her hip and no device that can help. For the rest of her life, she is at constant risk of dislocation from a movement as simple as handing her husband the remote control.
A jury of 10 unanimously found Biomet negligent and responsible for the client’s injuries, and awarded her and her husband $21 million.