Court Issues Mixed Summary Judgment, Daubert Rulings in Biomet Hip Replacement Defect Case

A District of Maryland judge has partly granted and partly denied cross motions for summary judgment in a product defect case lodged against hip replacement manufacturer Biomet Orthopedics, LLC, Biomet Manufacturing Corp., and Biomet U.S. Reconstruction, LLC (collectively, Biomet). The lawsuit dates back to 2012 when the plaintiff, who received a Biomet hip replacement in 2007, and her spouse, sued after the device allegedly failed, necessitating revision surgeries.

The plaintiffs’ chief argument is that the hip replacement device’s metal-on-metal construction “caused the device to corrode, releasing metallic debris into the bloodstream that killed surrounding tissue and bone.” The plaintiffs contend that Biomet knew about this dangerous defect, but marketed it as safe anyways.

Procedurally, the case was consolidated with others in multidistrict litigation in 2012. Six years later, after extensive pretrial proceedings, the present matter was returned from the multidistrict litigation to the District of Maryland as part of the first remand group.

In this week’s 66-page opinion, the court decided Daubert motions and dueling motions for summary judgment. The court permitted one of the plaintiffs’ designated “specific causation experts,” to give testimony regarding causation, but barred the other. As to the latter, the court held that the doctor did not sufficiently explain how the evidence presented gave rise to his conclusion that the alleged defective design of Biomet’s device required that the plaintiff  undergo revision surgeries.

Turning to the matter of summary judgment, the court allowed the plaintiffs’ strict liability and negligence counts to proceed to trial based on theories of design defect and failure to warn. Under the same theories, the plaintiffs’ derivative loss of consortium claim was also permitted to go to the jury. However, the court dismissed these counts to the extent they were premised on a manufacturing defect theory because Biomet presented evidence foreclosing its viability as a matter of law.

The court also dismissed claims of breach of implied and express warranty, and punitive damages. The judge sided with the plaintiffs by partly granting their motion for summary judgment on several of Biomet’s affirmative defenses, some of which the court noted were “plainly specious.”

The plaintiffs are represented by Janet, Jenner & Suggs, LLC and Jones Ward PLC, and Biomet by Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP.