A New York federal judge has handed Zimmer Inc. a win in the first bellwether trial in multidistrict litigation alleging its hip prosthetics are faulty, after finding that the plaintiff’s expert witness’s opinion is unreliable and inadmissible.
U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty granted Zimmer’s motion for summary judgment in Tamma Nutting’s suit, saying without the expert opinion of biomedical engineer Mari Truman, Nutting can’t show that any alleged defect in the hip prosthetic caused her injuries.
Nutting had a total hip replacement of her right hip, in which her surgeon used two of Zimmer’s products, a cobalt-chrome VerSys Femoral Head and a Taper Kinectiv Stem and Neck. She had no problems for six years, but in 2017 she reported pain in the area and a series of tests showed her blood’s cobalt levels were elevated.
Nutting’s physician replaced the device and found inflammation and dead tissue, as well as signs of corrosion on the femoral head device, prompting Nutting to sue the following year, alleging a design defect resulted in the corrosion and her injuries.
Nutting proffered Truman as an expert witness, as she is a biomedical engineer who holds 12 patents for orthopedic devices and has 40 years of experience in biomechanics and orthopedics, and while Zimmer did not dispute her qualifications, it moved to have her testimony excluded as lacking support.
Truman had opined that a “mismatch” in the connection between the femoral head and the Kinectiv’s neck had been the cause of Nutting’s injuries, as it allowed for movement and the resulting corrosion.
The judge found that Nutting’s failure to warn claims fail, as Zimmer’s duty to warn was to her physician, not Nutting, and her physician testified that he did not read the company’s warnings or instructions and relied on his own experience in implanting the device.
As such, the judge wrote, no matter what warnings were offered, they would not have made a difference in how Nutting’s surgeon used the device.