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O'Shea v. Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc.
United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
342 F. Supp.3d 1354 (2018)
Patrick O’Shea (plaintiff) had chronic pain in his knee. O’Shea’s left leg was slightly shorter than his right, his femur bowed outward and forward, he walked with a gait from a gunshot wound, and he was obese. He had knee-replacement surgery using an implant manufactured by Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. (Biomet) (defendant). Seven years later, part of the implant broke. When O’Shea’s surgeon replaced the broken part, he discarded the original. However, the surgeon said he had never seen an implant break like O’Shea’s, it did not perform as expected, and neither O’Shea’s weight nor leg deformity caused the break. When O’Shea sued Biomet alleging that the implant was defectively manufactured, he did not hire an expert with special expertise on his implant to testify. However, an internal Biomet complaint-handling form showed that a Biomet employee checked “yes” in response to whether available information suggested that the implant failed to perform as intended. The employee added an explanation that the part broke while implanted and said the part was not designed to break under normal loads and conditions. The form also asked if other conditions contributed to the failure, and the employee checked “no.” The employee did not check “no information” or “N/A” instead. The employee also noted that O’Shea had a leg deformity that had been corrected by cutting part of the bone. Biomet requesting summary judgment denying the manufacturing-defect claim, arguing that under Georgia law, O’Shea could not prevail without expert testimony establishing that a manufacturing defect likely caused the failure.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)
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