August 29, 2001 - Federal Court Allows Sulzer Medica To Move Forward With Settlement Proposal
A federal judge in Ohio will allow Sulzer Medica AG to move forward with its $750 million offer to settle complaints arising from faulty hip implants manufactured by the company's Austin orthopedics unit.
The judge did not approve the settlement. Her decision simply means that Sulzer can now officially send its proposal to the approximately 32,000 patients who received the implants and lobby for their approval. Patients may opt out of the settlement if they do not believe it is fair.
Another hearing will be set to determine the ultimate fate of Sulzer's proposal. However, patients who received faulty Sulzer knees will not be party to the settlement. U.S. District Judge Kathleen O'Malley ruled the company cannot include the estimated 1,600 people who received faulty knees in the offer.
Sulzer's proposal would cover medical expenses and pay patients anywhere $57,500 to $97,500 in cash and stock. Patients can opt out of the class action settlement, but if they do, they might not collect any damages for years. Sulzer's offer is structured so that a lien would be placed on company's assets until 2008, making it difficult to collect damages awarded in state court. That provision has angered many patients. Lawyers representing over 500 patients have already filed arguments against the settlement.
"This is a significant achievement, but we will continue to work hard for final approval," said Sulzer Orthopedics president David Floyd in a statement. Sulzer officials have said the company may be forced to file for bankruptcy protection if the settlement is rejected. "This will allow us to meet our commitments to all of the patients involved," Floyd said.
If enough patients decide the company's offer isn't fair and opt out to pursue their own cases in state court, the company might withdraw the current settlement proposal and offer a new one, attorneys say.
More than 1,200 lawsuits have been filed against Sulzer, which produced about 40,000 hip and 1,600 knee implants tainted with a small amount of motor oil that prevented the implants from bonding properly. So far, more than 2,350 patients have had faulty Sulzer hips replaced and 280 have had defective knees replaced.
Since August 2001, 2,380 patients have undergone new surgery to replace defective Sulzer hips, and there a presently over 1,000 cases pending against Sulzer. If you or someone you know has had a hip replacement involving a defective Sulzer implant, it is important to seek medical and legal assistance as soon as possible. In all medical product liability cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the procedure in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you believe that you may be a victim of a defective hip implant, call now at or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.