Judge tosses Smith & Nephew hip lawsuit

A federal judge dismissed a patient lawsuit over Smith & Nephew's ($SNN) recalled hip implant, ruling that the suit's claims were vague and speculative.

As Law360 reports, the suit stems from S&N's R3 Constrained Acetabular Liner, a recalled component the plaintiff said was defective and caused her severe injury. But New York Judge J. Paul Oetken tossed the suit, saying the plaintiff failed to specify a particular problem with the implant's design or identify a manufacturing defect, pointing instead to the fact that it was recalled. And that's not enough to implicate S&N, Oetken said.

"If plaintiff is going to rely on the circumstantial theory of liability described in New York case law, she must allege more facts to nudge her claim above the level of speculation and into the realm of the plausible," the judge said, according to Law360.

But that may not be the last S&N hears on the case. The judge is allowing her to reformulate her complaint, and a clearer filing could well lead to a trial for the U.K. implant giant.

S&N voluntarily recalled the liner back in June, citing concerns with its performance and a high rate of required revision surgeries. About 7,700 of the metal liners had been implanted since 2007, the company said, and it cautioned patients to consult their surgeons if they encountered symptoms of implant failure.

The R3 liner is just one of S&N's reconstructive implants beset by regulatory problems and declining sales, and the company's hip unit declined 2% last quarter. That market is unlikely to improve in the coming year, the company said, and it's working to diversify itself, buying Healthpoint for $782 million in December in an effort to boost its growing wound-management business.

At the same time, the company is shedding jobs to save $150 million by 2014, trying to offset the costs of pricing pressures around the globe and the 2.3% medical device tax in the U.S.

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