Will the Metal-on-Metal Hip Litigation Reach $5B for Zimmer and DePuy?

Forbes blogger Peter Cohan estimates that orthopedic implant companies—including Warsaw-based Zimmer Holdings Inc. and DePuy Orthopaedics Inc.—will pay out $5 billion to cover legal claims that their all-metal hip implants have failed, causing new health issues.

The metal pieces of the implants allegedly generate debris as they rub against each other, and the debris is damaging tissue, causing infections and, in extreme cases, leading to crippling complications. Cohan broadcast his prediction after the New York Times published an article on the problemlast week. The Times noted that private health insurers are moving in court to recover their expenses for the follow-up medical care caused by the hipimplants. The federal Medicare program is expected to follow suit. Cohan estimates there will be 30,000 claims before the issue is settled. Multiply that number by likely settlement amounts—he notes it was $147,000 perpatient 10 years ago in a case involving Sulzer Orthopedics—and you get pretty close to $5 billion.

A long-running dispute between two local food companies that servenursing homes was resolved in October by Hamilton County Judge Steve Nation. Anderson-based Rubicon Foods LLC was ordered to pay $94,600 to Indianapolis-based Darlington Cookie Co. for misappropriationof trade secrets and trespassing on computers. Rubicon is also on the hook for nearly $276,000 in attorney’s fees racked up by Darlington’s law firm, Indianapolis-based Bose McKinney & Evans LLP. Darlington is led by Phil Hockemeyer, and Rubicon is led by his younger brothers, Steve and Todd Hockemeyer. All three brothers worked together at Darlington before the younger two left in 2006 to form Rubicon, claiming they were forced out. But Darlington claimed successfully that Steve and Todd Hockemeyer stole trade secrets from Darlington’s computers before leaving. Both companies make food mixes that whip up into sliced bread, rice, pasta and cookies that dissolve immediately when eaten by nursing home patients. The mixes are designed to help patients who are malnourished or sometimes even die because they can’t swallow solid food properly.

St. Vincent Randolph Hospital in Winchester will join the Indiana Telehealth Network. Construction of about 25 miles of fiber-optic cabling to the hospital will begin in the coming weeks. Construction will be completed this summer. The project brings broadband Internet access to the 25-bed hospital, as well as establishes a connection hub for broadband connectivity for surrounding Randolph County. The Indiana Telehealth Network already includes 23 rural hospitals and five urban partner hospitals. The network is primarily funded by the Federal Communications Commission and is administered by the Indiana Rural Health Association. St. Vincent Randolph is part of the Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Health chain of hospitals.


Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President of Ortho Spine Partners and Partner for The De Angelis Group. He also serves as Co-Founder and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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