Class-action suit seeks people with fractured hip implant from Wright Medical

Ben Cousins, The Canadian Press
October 19, 2015
By Ben Cousins, The Canadian Press
A class-action lawsuit against a medical equipment company has been certified in Nova Scotia, alleging a hip replacement system fractured prematurely in some patients.

The representative plaintiff in the lawsuit is Kenneth Taylor, who says in court documents he had his left hip replaced with a profemur hip implant system from Wright Medical because of osteoarthritis, a joint disease caused by the breakdown of cartilage and bone.

Two years later, he alleges in the documents that the device failed.

The plaintiff's statement of claim alleges for at least two years, Wright Medical knew a disproportionately high number of their implants were failing and harming patients and failed to disclose this information.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Tennessee-based Wright Medical declined comment but the company has asked the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal a lower court ruling certifying the lawsuit.

Raymond Wagner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, alleges that replacement hips should last between 15 and 25 years but were failing in two or three years in some patients.

"The problem is of course with hip surgeries the more you do, the more damage is being done to the musculature and the pathology around the hip," he said in an interview.

A statement of claim filed with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia alleges that the implant has an 11.2 per cent failure rate at the three-year interval based on a 2009 report published by the Australian Orthopaedic Association.

In its statement of defence, the company says it has done nothing wrong and any problems stem from the implant being used in ways that it was not intended.

"The hip implant system was reasonably safe for its intended purpose based upon the scientific skill and knowledge at the time it was designed, manufactured, marketed and distributed and that the benefits of the product exceeded any associated risk," it says.

A member of the class action says his implant broke after 2 1/2 years.

"I've got a continuous limp," said Norm Murnaghan of Halifax.

In an interview, he said he has stopped playing squash and badminton, and can only play golf nine holes at a time.

A notice approved by Nova Scotia's Supreme Court and issued this week by Wagner's law firm says the class-action lawsuit covers anyone in Canada who received a Wright Medical profemur hip implant after February 2001 and suffered a fracture. Wagner says more than 30 people have contacted him so far.

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