Biomet To Pay $21M In Hip Implant Defect Suit Verdict

By Mike Curley
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Law360 (November 24, 2020, 4:43 PM EST) -- Biomet Inc. was hit with a $21 million judgment following a Missouri federal trial over whether its hip implants were defective and caused injuries to a woman who had her hips replaced in 2008, according to an order making the amount public on Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Clark signed off on the jury's $20 million judgment to Mary Bayes, plus post-judgment interest and costs of the action, and $1 million to her husband, Philip Bayes, plus post-judgment interests and costs of the action, according to the order, which made public the verdicts reached at trial.

In her suit, Mary Bayes said she got both hips replaced in early 2008 with a product called the M2a Magnum that Biomet should have known had defects because it was based on an earlier design, called the M2a Taper, that had allegedly already caused problems. Bayes began experiencing pain in 2010, and had her first revision surgery in March 2011 in her left hip, according to her suit.

Bayes' case went to trial last month, and the jury reached a compensatory damages verdict in her favor on Oct. 22, before there was a break in the trial. The punitive damages phase finished on Nov. 18, according to court records. Until Tuesday, the amount of neither verdict had been made public.

"Judge Clark realized early on that the administration of justice, a central tenet of our democracy, must continue forward even during a pandemic," Darin Schanker of Barrios Kingsdorf & Casteix LLP, representing the Bayeses, told Law360 on Tuesday. "So justice was had, and the truth that Biomet sought to conceal for so long came to light. My clients are happy they have had their day in court with Biomet finally being held responsible for its defective M2a Magnum, unwittingly implanted into tens of thousands of Americans unfortunately still at risk."

He said Tuesday's order encompasses both the compensatory and punitive damages in the case. According to court documents, the jury awarded no punitive damages.

"While we are pleased that the jury found in favor of Zimmer Biomet under the strict liability count and on plaintiffs' claim for punitive damages, Zimmer Biomet is disappointed in the inconsistent jury verdict regarding our M2a Magnum hip implant device," a spokesperson for Biomet told Law360 on Tuesday. "We will pursue all available legal options to appeal the jury's inconsistent verdict."

The judgment follows a failed bid by Biomet to have the verdict reconsidered and the case declared a mistrial after one juror tested positive for COVID-19.

The juror had been excused from the punitive damages portion of the trial because of the diagnosis, but was present for the compensatory damages portion of the trial, Biomet said. As a result, the two portions of the trial had different juries in violation of the Seventh Amendment, the company argued.

Last week, Judge Clark rebuffed Biomet's motion but did not provide his reasoning, allowing the punitive damages trial to finish.

The Bayeses are represented by Darin Schanker, J. Chris Elliott and Melanie R. Sulkin of Bachus & Schanker, Zachary Wool of Barrios Kingsdorf & Casteix LLP, Jessica Perez Reynolds of Pendley Baudin & Coffin and Jim O'Leary and Michael Quillin of O'Leary Shelton Corrigan Peterson Dalton & Quillin LLC.

Biomet is represented by John Mandler of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP.

The case is Bayes v. Biomet, case number 4:13-cv-00800, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

--Additional reporting by Cara Salvatore. Editing by Janice Carter Brown.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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