U.S. Court of Appeals Affirms Dismissal of Knee Replacement Product Defect Case

Theodore Joas underwent a total knee replacement at a Wisconsin hospital receiving a Zimmer NexGen Flex knee implant.  Within a few years, he began experiencing pain in his new knee.  X-rays confirmed that the implant had loosened and required a surgical repair.

He brought a series of claims against Zimmer Inc., the implant manufacturer.  His case was transferred to a multi-district litigation in the Northern District of Illinois where it was eventually treated as a bellwether case.

The court applied Wisconsin law and granted summary judgment in favor of Zimmer.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago affirmed, declining to reinstate a single claim based on a theory of inadequate warning. The court of appeals predicted that the Wisconsin Supreme Court would follow the majority of states and adopt the “learned intermediary” doctrine, which holds that the manufacturer of a medical device has no duty to warn the patient as long as it provides adequate warnings to the physician who did the surgery.

In addition, Joas had not identified any danger that Zimmer should have warned him about. He had presented no evidence to support the causation element of negligence.

Joas did not select the NexGen Flex implant, so the information would not have caused him to change his behavior.  The physician who did the surgery selected the Zimmer product, making his decision based on his own past experiences, not on any marketing materials or information provided by Zimmer. Accordingly, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit on Zimmer’s summary judgment motion.

Joas v. Zimmer, Inc., No. 16-3957 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, March 8, 2018).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling total knee replacement defect lawsuits, product liability cases, pharmaceutical defect lawsuits and wrongful death cases for individuals, families and loved ones who have been harmed, injured or killed by the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Melrose Park, Villa Park, Mount Prospect, Mundelein, Sauk Village, Countryside, Calumet City, Chicago Heights, Blue Island, Chicago (Andersonville, Bronzeville, East Side, South Shore, West Loop, West Town, Old Town), Woodstock, Crystal Lake, Gurnee, Willowbrook and Wilmette, Ill.

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