May 26, 2022

Faegre Drinker Secures Reversal on Appeal of Multimillion-Dollar Jury Verdict in California

On May 26, 2022, the California Second District Court of Appeal reversed a jury verdict on damages against Zimmer, Inc. and granted a new trial on that issue. On behalf of Zimmer, Faegre Drinker argued that the trial court erred by excluding all of Zimmer’s proffered expert medical opinions on possible alternative causes of claimed injury that were not expressed to a reasonable medical probability.

In Kline v. Zimmer, Inc ll., a damages-only retrial, the jury awarded the plaintiff over $7.68 million in economic and non-economic damages for personal injuries. On appeal, Faegre Drinker argued that the trial court had erroneously barred Zimmer from presenting any expert testimony about possible alternative causes for the plaintiff’s injuries, a primary issue in the case. The Court of Appeal agreed with Zimmer, stating that the trial court had applied the wrong evidentiary standard and that the trial court’s categorical exclusion of Zimmer’s expert testimony on this central issue deprived Zimmer of a fair trial. The exclusion of this expert testimony, the Court of Appeal concluded, was a structural error in the trial and entitled Zimmer to a new trial.

Faegre Drinker’s team included product liability and mass torts partners Tarifa Laddon and Bruce Jones, senior counsel Joe Price and associates Amanda Semaan and Josephine Far. “Our team is pleased that the Court of Appeal agreed with Zimmer and reversed the trial court judgment, granting a new damages trial for our client,” said Laddon. “This decision represents a significant win for Zimmer and confirms that California law permits defendants to challenge expert testimony offered by plaintiffs, even if that challenge cannot be stated to a reasonable medical probability.”

 
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