Over $1 billion to be paid in product liability settlement

Sometimes medical procedures don't go as planned in Florida. Mistakes happen. Worst case scenarios may include negligence rather than error. But what does one do when a medical plan goes well, and much later there's a problem? Hip replacement recipients across the country found themselves facing this dilemma when they were advised in 2012 that the company that had manufactured the device implanted in their bodies issued a product recall. Yes, it was a recall of hips already implanted in thousands of people, many of whom are elderly.

According to reports, patients were complaining of pain, swelling and actual metal debris found in the blood allegedly relating to their artificial hips. The manufacturer has been named in over 4,000 lawsuits – now consolidated in a state court and one federal proceeding. One of the company's attorneys reportedly informed the state court judge a base amount of $300,000 per case will be paid to patients who removed the defective devices. It's further reported this manufacturer chose to settle before facing the trial wherein it was charged with design flaws and failure to warn patients.

Months of persistent mediation led to the settlement agreement. Another attorney for the company said those with extraordinary injuries tied to the removal will qualify for more money through the federal case if they meet guidelines agreed upon for the larger award.

This case exemplifies how negotiation skills, attention to detail and consideration for the plaintiffs can achieve a positive outcome. At times a case seems to be cut and dry liability on the part of a defendant. But even if that is the case, arriving at a workable resolution that can be approved by a court takes effort.

Some legal experts reviewing the case noted it's unusual that a settlement was reached before trial was faced by the company. It shows, however, how a strategic approach is relevant for both plaintiffs and defendants.

Source: Bloomberg, "Stryker to Pay More Than $1 Billion for Recalled Devices" David Voreacos and Jef Feeley, Nov. 04, 2014

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