A Pennsylvania state court late last year cut the damages owed by Zimmer Biomet (NYSE:ZBH) in a knee implant lawsuit to $21.5 million after a Keystone State appeals court called the verdict “excessive.”
The lawsuit filed by Margo Polett claimed that she re-injured her knees while making a Zimmer promotional video, after a double knee replacement procedure in 2006 using the company’s Gender Solutions device. Polett alleged that activities she engaged in for the video, including riding a bicycle and running on a treadmill, resulted in new damage to her knees.
A jury awarded Polett millions in damages after finding that Zimmer was 34% culpable. The jury also put 30% of the blame on Polett herself and 36% on the marketing firm Public Communications for its involvement with the ad.
But the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled in October 2013 that the lower court incorrectly shifted the burden of proof onto Zimmer by asking the company to provide alternative explanations for Polett’s revisions surgeries, thus leading the jury to a potentially false conclusion, and ordered a new trial. After the high court agreed in May 2014 to reconsider 3 issues in the case, it reversed the superior court’s decision and ordered it to review the decision.
Last June, the superior court ordered the trial court to cut the nearly $28 million in damages levied against Zimmer, ruling that although Polett and her husband were clearly entitled to compensatory damages, the $26.6 million awarded to Polett and the $1 million awarded to her husband was “excessive – if not punitive – and ‘clearly beyond what the evidence warrants.’”
The trial court cut the verdict to$21.5 million Dec. 2; Zimmer Biomet promptly appealed Dec. 5, according to a regulatory filing.