A global device manufacturer’s 2012 decision to issue a voluntary recall of two of its artificial hip components could leave many patients confused about their exposure to serious complications and their legal rights to compensation.
The problems date back to 2008, when Stryker Corporation announced the release of “breakthrough” devices for artificial hips. These devices employed a two-piece modular “neck and stem” intended to enhance stability and flexibility by offering to surgeons a range of interchangeable necks and stems to personalize a hip implant to fit a patient’s unique anatomy.
Not long thereafter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) began receiving complaints about a range of issues allegedly caused by these devices, including:
- Corrosion and so-called “fretting” (abrading) at the neck and stem junctions;
- Metallosis from chromium, titanium or cobalt particles entering the bloodstream after significant fretting;
- Avascular necrosis (impaired blood supply to the bone, leading to bone death and other complications), an affliction which ended the football career of Bo Jackson in his 20s;
- Osteolysis (dissolution of the bone);
- Severe inflammation and swelling;
- Joint dislocation; and
- Allergic responses.
While Stryker never admitted that all of the alleged consequences resulted from its devices, it did agree last year to a voluntary recall of its Rejuvenate and ABG II modular-neck stem devices, terminating global distribution of these products.
Stryker also set up a dedicated patient call center at 1-888-317-0200 to answer questions about the voluntary artificial hip recall and the company’s offer to rectify the situation. It is not exactly clear from the Stryker Website just what the terms of its offer to patients are, but the company does state that it “has partnered with Broadspire Services Inc., a third-party claims administrator, to work directly with patients to manage medical claims and address out-of-pocket costs relating to the voluntary recall.”
It would appear that Stryker is approaching the diagnosis and remedy on a case-by-case basis, and patients should be prepared to ask a number of questions about the company’s offer before accepting it. They should also consult with counsel about alternative options to accepting any settlement.
Among other things, patients should question what rights, if any, they must waive to obtain any medical remedy sponsored by Stryker, and, specifically, whether they are waiving any claims to lost wages, consequential damages, or compensation for pain and suffering.
Patients with Stryker hip components may also be approached by class action plaintiffs or lawyers seeking to add people to their class. One class action has reportedly been filed on Jan. 25, 2013, for plaintiffs in the state of Florida, and another group of plaintiffs in New Jersey has asked a judge to consolidate multi-county claims in state court.
While class action remedies often promise justice without any expense to the litigants, they do not always produced the best possible results, in part because they cannot precisely tailor damages and remedies for each particular injury. Also, individuals who opt out of a class to pursue their own unique claims with the help of a highly qualified advocate generally fare better than class action plaintiffs in our experience.
If you have received a hip implant, and believe that you are affected by this product recall, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (312) 477-2500 to speak with one of our qualified personal injury attorneys. We can help you determine if and how you might have been harmed, and what damages and remedies you can pursue. You can also check out our Website for more information about our law firm, Cogan & Power, P.C.
Sourcing: Stryker Website, FDA.gov, AP news reports, and Seeger & Weiss law firm blog.