Military veteran sues over dangerous product used in surgery

A military veteran in Texas has filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of a medical device that has led to years of agony and limited mobility. The dangerous product: A medical insert manufactured by Zimmer, a medical device manufacturer that creates knee and hip replacements, among other support devices for those with injured extremities. Official reports show that the man had a Zimmer plate installed in his lower leg after suffering serious injuries due to a 2007 motorcycle accident. Even though doctors told the military veteran and former prison sergeant that the plate would stabilize his bones, it did not succeed – in fact, it broke shortly after installation. A second replacement plate also broke after it was installed in a subsequent surgery. A trial in the matter is set for later this month, according to news reports.

Even as the victim in this case was pressing Zimmer for answers, it appears that the Food and Drug Administration was also making inquiries. The company is accused of failing to report the man’s medical device failure within the mandatory 30-day window. Further, a deposition revealed that Zimmer may have explicitly ordered its employees to remain silent about medical device failures, explicitly violating FDA requirements designed to protect the general public.

The victim in this case says he worries that the plate in his leg did not receive appropriate testing for thickness and strength. Further, he alleges that Zimmer knew that its plates were significantly weaker than those produced by competitors. Sadly, the man was left with limited mobility after he was forced to under the knife a third time – this time, with a metal rod installed instead of a plate. Physicians said they were doubtful that they could even save the man’s leg.

Patients deserve to receive medical devices that have been adequately tested for manufacturing defects. Texas residents should not have to worry about the quality of the medical implants they receive; rather, they should be assured that they will not be exposed to defective products during their medical procedures. Victims of such scenarios may be able to recover financial damages from the negligent company that failed to identify its quality-control issues, permitting the distribution of dangerous products to unassuming victims.

Source: WFAA, “After plate in leg breaks again, military vet brings lawsuit against device company” Shelly Slater, Dec. 19, 2013