More than two years after an offer to pay $1.4 billion to patients to settle lawsuits over defective hip replacements (for an estimated $300,000 per plaintiff), Stryker and Howmedica have updated their offer. In a press release dated December 19th 2016, Stryker announced that the company will:

“…compensate additional eligible U.S. patients who had surgery to replace their Rejuvenate Modular Neck Hip Stem and ABG II Modular Neck Hip Stem, known as a revision surgery, prior to December 19, 2016.”

However, there is a narrow window of opportunity for new plaintiffs. Enrollment began on January 17th, and will close on March 17th of this year.

This new settlement extends an earlier agreement by two years. Earlier, the agreement covered only those patients who had gotten their hip replacements prior to November 3rd, 2014. Stryker is also requiring no fewer than 95% of eligible plaintiffs to enroll in the new Settlement Program before it will begin paying benefits.

This news comes in the wake of the company’s fourth-quarter statement, which reports a fall in profits of 2.3%, due to lawsuits over the Rejuvenate and ABG II modular metal-on-metal (MoM) neck hip stems, which have been subject to failure. Those products were recalled after Stryker started receiving reports of corrosion and wear that caused the release of metal into the bloodstream and adjoining tissues, causing a condition known as metallosis, which causes chronic pain, illness and tissue necrosis. Stryker’s newer product, the LFIT cobalt-chromium V40 Head, has reportedly been having the same problems. Those devices were taken off the market in August of 2016 after Stryker had received numerous adverse event reports.

Plaintiffs allege that Stryker was aware of the complications associated with the hip implants, but failed to issue proper warnings. They also claim that the design was defective to begin with. While the company expects to settle its liability related to the Rejuvenate and ABG II products by the end of 2017, there is likely to be additional lawsuits filed over the LFIT v40 femoral head.

At this point, it is not known how much Stryker Medical will ultimately be paying to settle all claims related to defective hip replacement products. Legal problems have not stopped Stryker from making addition acquisitions, however. Last year, the company took over Sage Products and Physio-Control, a manufacturer of heart defibrillators, in buyouts totaling $4 billion.

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.