A Texas military veteran recently brought a lawsuit against a medical device company after the plate in his leg broke for the second time. Sergeant Don Gustafson, a veteran of the Marine Corp and Navy Reserve, sued Zimmer, Inc. in state court in Collin County, claiming that the medical device company created an unsafe product and lied about it. Zimmer, Inc. sells devices ranging from knee to hip devices and generates earnings of $4 billion per year worldwide.
The situation began back in 2007, when Gustafson broke both bones in his lower leg in a motorcycle accident. He had a plate installed to stabilize the leg that was manufactured by Zimmer, Inc. Sometime later, the plate broke and Gustafson was forced to have a new one installed. He contacted the company to let them know what happened, and was allegedly told that there was nothing wrong with the product. Gustafson believed the company’s claims, and so he had the same type of plate installed in his leg. One year later, after suffering pain in that location, Gustafson had an X-ray, which showed that that plate was broken as well.
Gustafson claims that as a result of the plate being broken, he suffered so much damage in his lower leg, his doctors discussed amputating it prior to his third surgery. His complaint came to the attention of the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires that companies like Zimmer, Inc. report every device failure within 30 days of it taking place. Gustafson claims that Zimmer, Inc. was not reporting every device failure. Instead, the company allegedly sometimes waited months to report a problem (like Gustafson’s), and its employees operated under the belief that they did not need to report every problem, just the ones reported to them by a physician.