First Hip Implant Verdict Against Zimmer, $9.2M Award to Waters Kraus & Paul Client

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"[T]his verdict will help not just the Kline family, but so many other people as well,” said plaintiffs' lawyer Gibbs Henderson. An estimated 2.5 million people are living with hip implants.

A Los Angeles jury has awarded $9.2 million to a 59-year-old California man injured by a defective metal-on-metal hip implant manufactured by Zimmer, Inc. The failure of Zimmer’s Durom Cup forced Gary Kline to undergo two grueling hip replacement surgeries in just 15 months and has left him living with chronic pain. “This victory is particularly gratifying because we are the first to prevail against Zimmer in nationwide litigation over the Durom Cup,” said David Bricker, a partner in Waters, Kraus & Paul’s California office, who served as lead counsel on the case.

Beginning in 2006, Zimmer misled American surgeons into believing that the U.S. version of the Durom Cup had a successful and safe track record in Europe, where the product was introduced after having been developed and tested for seven years. However, court documents revealed that for the U.S. market, Zimmer altered the Durom Cup’s plasma coating, a critical component of the device. Zimmer did not test the altered coating to determine its effectiveness before bringing the medical device to the U.S. market. Plaintiffs contend that Zimmer hid the fact that the American Durom Cup was not the same as its European counterpart. According to a 2014 Mayo Clinic orthopedics study, an estimated 2.5 million people are living with hip implants. In finding for the plaintiff, the jury was unanimous on all counts. “After years of litigation where we saw Zimmer cause delay after delay, it is satisfying to see our clients finally receive justice,” added Mr. Bricker.

“This was a hard-fought battle,” said Gibbs Henderson, a partner in Waters, Kraus & Paul’s Dallas office, who tried the case with Mr. Bricker. “We've been laboring for three-and-a-half years to assemble the evidence against Zimmer.”

Gary Kline was just 51-years-old when he had his first hip surgery in 2007. He is the CEO of a water treatment equipment manufacturer and supplier to the American military. Prior to his hip implant, Gary, a motorcycle enthusiast, was described as having a zest for life, waking each morning ready to attack the day.

According to court documents, Zimmer's marketing materials claimed that for younger, more active people like Gary Kline, its Durom Cup product was tailor made — that the large head and metal-on-metal components allowed for a greater range-of-motion without the risk of dislocation and were built to last for decades. Additional court documents and testimony indicate that Gary’s orthopedic surgeon expected him to regain at least 98 percent of normal functioning in the hip.

Instead, Gary testified that Zimmer’s medical device left him with stabbing pains so severe that he could not move his leg. Expert testimony established that, after Gary’s second surgery, the residual scar tissue and muscle damage have made it almost impossible for him to do things he once took for granted, like getting on and off his motorcycle or playing in the yard with his grandchildren.

On July 24, after a three-week trial, the jury awarded Gary Kline $153,317.94 in past medical expenses, $2.4 million in past noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering and mental distress, and $6.6 million in future noneconomic damages.

“What means the most to our trial team is that this verdict will help not just the Kline family, but so many other people as well,” said Henderson. “The Durom Cup was implanted in thousands of patients before Zimmer finally withdrew it from the market in 2010. In fact, this is just the first case to be tried of more than 25 lawsuits pending against Zimmer in Los Angeles Superior Court. Hopefully, this verdict will mean that those clients will get justice, too.”

The case, Gary Kline v. Zimmer Holdings Inc., No. BC444834, was tried before the Honorable Amy D. Hogue in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

About Waters, Kraus & Paul

Waters, Kraus & Paul is a national plaintiffs’ law firm devoted to helping families in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving asbestos, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and birth defects and other injuries caused by toxic chemical exposure and semiconductor chip manufacturing. We also represent plaintiffs in qui tam whistleblower matters. Our attorneys have won record-setting verdicts, negotiated monumental settlements, and established ground-breaking new law in cases involving toxic exposure and defective products. Based in Dallas, Texas, with offices in California and the Washington D.C. area, Waters, Kraus & Paul has participated in the representation of families from all fifty states and many foreign countries, as well as foreign governments. Learn more at http://www.waterskrauspaul.com

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Brandy Dietz
@Waters_Kraus
since: 06/2012
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