August 31, 2001 - Company Must Pay Women $15 Million for Supplying Them Defective Hip Parts
After 10 hours of deliberation, a jury found that Austin, Texas-based Sulzer Orthopedics Inc. knew its hip replacement device was defective and ordered them to pay $15.38 million to three South Texas women who experienced a severe pain and suffering.
The Corpus Christi trial was the result of three separate lawsuits brought by Naomi Bonorden, 68, Helen Rupp, 73, and Lillian Sallinger, 78. All three claimed that their Sulzer hips did not properly adjust to their bodies as promised by the company.
This was the first of what could be as many as 4,000 cases against the company to go to trial. Sulzer officials have offered to settle all of the cases against it by agreeing to pay the medical expenses and about $60,000 to each injured patient. That proposal is under consideration by a federal judge in Cleveland, Ohio.
This jury's verdict shows just how inadequate that settlement offer, said lawyers for the three South Texas women. "This verdict tells the medical device industry that when it learns it has a problem with one of its products, it should tell the doctors and patients about the problem first, not last," says Mikal Watts, a Corpus Christi lawyer representing the three women.
"Real people suffered because this company put the company's name and profitability ahead of the health and welfare of the people they served," Sallinger said.
According to lawyers on both sides the artificial hips went bad after the company changed equipment that manufactured the devices. Lawyers say that an oil was accidentally left on the devices. That oil caused the lubricant on the artificial hip to break down, preventing the hip from properly bonding with the natural bones in the body.
Sulzer officials do not dispute that its artificial hip is defective. However, the company says it removed the product from the market as quickly as could be reasonably expected. Sulzer lawyers said Thursday they plan to appeal the verdict.
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.