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Webb v. Stryker Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 20, 2017

GARY WEBB, Plaintiff,
v.
STRYKER CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Cathy Bissoon United States District Judge.

         I. MEMORANDUM

         For the reasons stated below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 42) will be granted.

         BACKGROUND

         On August 31, 2012, Plaintiff underwent total left hip arthroplasty, during which a hip joint replacement system, consisting of a shell, insert, hip stem, femoral head and cap base manufactured by Stryker, was implanted. (Doc. 41 ¶ 33). Following the surgery, Plaintiff developed a wound infection. (Id. ¶ 16). In November 2012, he underwent surgery to remove the original hip implant and replace it with an antibiotic cement spacer. (Id.). A greater trochanteric osteotomy also was performed, with three cerclage cables inserted around the osteotomy. (Id. ¶ 20). On June 23, 2013, Plaintiff was diagnosed with a periprosthetic fracture around the cerclage cables. (Id. ¶ 23). On June 24, 2013, Plaintiff underwent a revision surgery, during which the cerclage wires and antibiotic spacer were removed and a total hip replacement with cable plate was performed. (Id. ¶¶ 24-27). Plaintiff claims that “Defendants designed the hip implants . . . with an inherent and unreasonable propensity . . . to fail to bond with the growth of the securing host bone, including loosening of the attachment between the bone and implants, misalignment of the implant components and improper fit of the implant components, causing the hip implants to loosen and move in all affected patients[.]” (Id. ¶ 35). He also claims that “Defendants' negligent manufacturing and packaging of the hip implants were the direct and proximate cause of [his] development of an infection[.]” (Id. ¶ 51).

         Plaintiff originally brought suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County for strict liability and negligence, based on three separate theories: negligent design, negligent manufacturing and failure to warn. The action was removed to this Court on January 21, 2016. Plaintiff filed what was styled his Second Amended Complaint (but which was, for reasons previously explained (Doc. 35 at 2), in actuality his First Amended Complaint) on June 2, 2016.

         On November 21, 2016, upon motion by Defendants, the Court dismissed Plaintiff's claims for strict liability, with prejudice, and his claims for negligent design and manufacturing, without prejudice, while at the same time finding that he did state a viable failure-to-warn claim. (Doc. 35 at 7). Although the Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend with respect to the negligent design and manufacturing theories, it made clear that, if he chose to file another amended complaint, he had to “be prepared to make last, best efforts to state viable claim(s), as the Court [would] not afford further opportunity for amendment.” (Id. at 7 n.2).

         On December 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed his Fourth Amended Complaint, [1] reasserting his claims for negligent design (Count I), negligent failure to warn (Count II) and negligent manufacturing (Count III). (Doc. 41). Except where noted in the discussion that follows, the allegations in the Fourth Amended Complaint are the same as the allegations in the Second Amended Complaint.

         On January 12, 2017, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss with respect to Counts I and III. (Docs. 42-43). They also argue that any claims arising out of the device implanted during the second surgery should be dismissed because they have not been pled in the prior versions of the Complaint. On January 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed a response and brief in opposition (Docs. 44-45). On February 6, 2017, Defendants filed a reply (Doc. 46). The Motion is ripe for disposition.

         ANALYSIS

         A. Negligent Design

         The Court dismissed the negligent design claim in Plaintiff's last amended complaint

         (Doc. 23), after determining that he failed to “identify the particular component of the hip implant alleged to have been defectively designed, let alone explain the nature of the alleged defect, ” and thus had not overcome the Twombly/Iqbal pleading standard. (Doc. 7 at 5). In the Fourth Amended Complaint, Plaintiff has attempted to address the deficiencies the Court observed by making a few minor modifications to his prior allegations and adding the following multi-part paragraph:

38. Defendants deviated from their duty to exercise reasonable care and were negligent, careless, and/or reckless in one or ...

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