Med device maker to settle bulk of W.Va. lawsuits

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A medical device maker has told shareholders it is settling its part of lawsuits against Dr. John King, the one-time West Virginia osteopath at the center of scores of malpractice claims.

Biomet Inc. has reached agreements with 24 of 27 plaintiffs who sued over bone stimulators made by its EBI subsidiary and allegedly implanted by King during his six-month stint at the former Putnam General Hospital, the company’s Monday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said.

The 27 are among more than 120 who allege in their suits that King misdiagnosed, harmed and even killed patients after the hospital hired him as a surgeon in 2002.

King, 50, left West Virginia in 2003 after surrendering his medical license. He has since filed for bankruptcy in his native Alabama, and remains a defendant in most of the lawsuits. He could not immediately be located for comment Wednesday.

The King lawsuits have already yielded at least $100 million in settlements with other defendants. The Indiana device maker admits no wrongdoing in the proposed agreements, reached last week.

The 27 cases involve EBI’s Ionic Spine Spacer System and its SpF and OsteoGen implants, the filing said.

The filing said the payments are confidential, though seven of the agreements will require the judge’s approval. Biomet noted in the regulatory filing that it expects to take a $39 million after-tax charge in the fourth quarter after setting aside money for claims relating to King.

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