Wright Medical, a manufacturer of hip implants and other medical devices, has asked a federal appellate court to overrule a jury’s verdict in the first bellwether trial to take place in the Conserve metal-on-metal hip implant MDL, which is situated in the Northern District of Georgia. According to the company, a new trial is justified because it believes that the jury was allowed to take two bites at the apple.
An MDL, or multi-district litigation, is a judicial mechanism that is used to consolidate and expedite cases that involve similar claims. It is like a class action in that plaintiffs with common causes of action and common factual allegations against the same defendant are grouped together. It is different from a class action when it comes to damages, however, with each MDL plaintiff needing to prove his or her individual claim. To test legal theories, claims, and damages, the lead attorneys in an MDL conduct a bellwether trial. This involves selecting a plaintiff whose case is representative of the broader MDL plaintiffs’ claims and litigating it to see what a jury would conclude. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against Wright Medical, which are now pending in the MDL action.
Last year, a jury in Atlanta returned a verdict awarding Robyn Christiansen $11 million in total damages, with $1 million reflecting compensatory injuries and the remaining $10 million comprising punitive damages. In general, punitive damages are designed to penalize a defendant for particularly egregious conduct and to act as a deterrent for other companies considering engaging in similar conduct. According to the jury, the Conserve hip implant device that Wright manufactured and marketed was defective because it did not provide appropriate warnings to patients about its potential risks.
At the close of the two-week trial, the jury deliberated over three days and returned a verdict stating that the device was designed in a defective manner and that it was not defective at the time it was sold to the plaintiff. The judge ordered the jury to return to deliberations, stating that the jury’s answers to the questions that followed this initial question regarding whether the device was defective did not comport with their determination that the Conservis hip implant was not defective.
Wright Medical moved for judgment as a matter of law, stating that the judge erred in sending the jury back into deliberations. The judge reduced the jury’s award of punitive damages to $1 million and denied Wright Medical’s motion for a new trial and motion for judgment as a matter of law. Wright Medical has now filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, seeking an order vacating the lower court’s entry of judgment.
If you have received a defective hip implant or been injured as the result of another dangerous medical device, the experienced product liability lawyers at Moll Law Group are prepared to help you fight for the compensation that you deserve. Understanding the complexities of a medical device and product liability claim can be difficult and stressful, especially if you are dealing with devastating injuries. Our professional team of trial lawyers are available to lead you through each step of the process. Serving clients throughout the United States, including in Illinois, Florida, New York, and California, we offer a free consultation. Call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to schedule your appointment now.