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Jury awards largest verdict of its kind in trial over hip implant

A jury has awarded $21 million in damages to a St. Louis couple who filed a design-defect suit against hip-implant system manufacturer Biomet Inc. — an outcome their attorney called the largest-known verdict of its kind in U.S. history. 

On Oct. 22, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri returned a $20 million verdict for Mary Bayes on her claim of design defect and $1 million to her husband, Philip Bayes, on his claim of loss of consortium. The jury did not find for Mary Bayes on her claim of strict liability. 

After the jury returned its verdict on compensatory damages, a complication emerged: U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Clark, who was presiding over the trial, learned a juror had received notification of a positive COVID-19 test, according to court records. 

Clark encouraged the jurors to be tested for COVID-19 and instructed them to return in three weeks for the punitive damages phase of the trial. When the trial reconvened on Nov. 18, the jury declined to award punitive damages. 

Lead plaintiffs’ attorney Darin Schanker,  of Bachus & Schanker in Denver, said the verdict is the largest-known individual hip compensatory verdict in U.S. history and also the largest-known personal injury verdict in Missouri federal court history. 

“Plaintiffs hope this verdict sends a shot across the bow of the orthopedics industry that they should properly test their products, not using patients as unknowing guinea pigs,” he said. “Profits from a product rushed to market should never come before patient safety.” 

Mary Bayes underwent a procedure to implant Biomet’s M2a-Magnum hip in 2008 in St. Louis. The plaintiffs alleged the implant was defective and caused catastrophic tissue damage, resulting in seven hip replacements and 12 dislocations, Schanker said. 

The type of metal-on-metal implant his client received is now illegal to sell in the U.S. 

Biomet spokeswoman Meredith Weissman said the company is pleased with the jury’s defense verdict on strict liability and decision on punitive damages, but it is disappointed with the rest of the verdict.  

“We will pursue all available legal options to appeal the jury’s inconsistent verdict,” she said in a statement. 

“Our commitment to patient safety, quality and integrity shapes every decision that we make, and we will continue to strive for our mission of alleviating pain and improving quality of life for people around the world.” 

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$21 million plaintiffs’ verdict

Design Defect

Venue: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District  of Missouri

Breakdown: $20 million in compensatory damages to Mary Bayes, $1 million in compensatory damages to Philip Bayes

Case Number/Date: 4:13-cv-800/Nov. 18, 2020

Judge: Stephen R. Clark

Caption: Mary and Philip Bayes v. Biomet Inc.

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Darin L. Schanker, Bachus & Schanker, Denver; James D. O’Leary and Michael Quillin, O’Leary, Shelton, Corrigan, Peterson, Dalton & Quillin, St. Louis

Defendant’s Attorneys: John P. Mandler, Faegre Drinker, Minneapolis; Andrew Campbell, Faegre Drinker, Indianapolis; Troy Bozarth, HeplerBroom, Edwardsville, Illinois