May 16, 2002 - Some Quit Joint Replacement Settlement

About 120 patients who experienced faulty hip and knee replacements plan to opt out of a $1 billion settlement in a class action lawsuit.

Nearly 3,500 patients nationwide who received faulty artificial joints made by Austin, Texas-based Sulzer Orthopedics are covered by the settlement.

Parent company Sulzer Medica, located in Switzerland, said Thursday that it will negotiate to reduce the number of patients opting out of the settlement.

Sulzer's lead counsel, Richard Scruggs, has said that patients who choose to pursue litigation independently could bankrupt the company.

Those who got the implants replaced without complications will each receive about $200,000 under the settlement. The payment will be higher for patients with complications. About $40,000 of each patient's share will go toward attorney fees.

Cleveland U.S. District Judge Kate O'Malley approved the settlement last week following a two-day hearing.

In December 2000, the company was forced to recall thousands of artificial joints due to a manufacturing problem that had contaminated some with an oily residue. The substance prevented the new joint from bonding with patients' bones.

The agreement specifies that Sulzer Medica should pay $725 million toward the settlement.

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