Garson Johnson Law Blog

Judge Allows Punitive Damages in Biomet Hip Replacement LawSuit

Punitive damages are sometimes awarded in addition to actual damages in a law suit. Punitive damages are considered financial punishment against a company for wrong doing or misconduct.

Zimmer Bioment is currently involved in a multi-district litigation in Florida involving metal on metal hip replacements. Patients receiving this hip implant experienced early failures which often lead to major operations to correct the problem.

According to the Legal Examiner, the judge decided to allow the class action attorneys to go after punitive damages. Judge Henning comments from the partial transcript:

​ “I think that there is sufficient showing at this time regarding the knowledge that Biomet had regarding the toxicity of the… metal on metal, that they alleged…the damage as far back as 1995 and the testing that was done then, the culture of the company in suggesting that they, once the information was known, not presenting it to the doctors and the surgeons that were using it and trying to avoid subject matter and… even as they showed discussing that having metal in your body is a normal body function and that it would be in there in any event… So, I think at least at this point, there is a sufficient showing for them to be able to allege the claim.”

In previous hip implant trials, juries awarded patients of hip implant defects between $168 million to $1 billion in punitive damages. Hip implant manufactures have known about the health risks, yet continued to produce, sell and distribute the defective devices. The punitive damages will hopefully deter any and all medical device manufacturers from selling faulty devices in the future. Unfortunately, many of these manufacturers have placed financial gain before health and safety of their patients.
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