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In re Wright Medical Technology Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

March 29, 2017

IN RE WRIGHT MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY INC., CONSERVE HIP IMPLANT PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION ELIE M. MIMS and NORMA C. MIMS, Plaintiffs,
v.
WRIGHT MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY INC. and WRIGHT MEDICAL GROUP INC., Defendants. This Document Relates to: ELIE M. MIMS and NORMA C. MIMS 1:16-cv-3044-WSD

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DIJFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants Wright Medical Technology, Inc. (“WMT”) and Wright Medical Group Inc.'s (“WMG”) (together, “Wright Medical”) Motion to Dismiss [2].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On December 21, 2010, Plaintiffs Elie M. Mims and Norma C. Mims (“Plaintiffs”) filed a products liability action against WMT in the State Court of Gwinnett County, Georgia (“2010 Complaint”), based on alleged defects in WMT's Profemur Total Hip System. On January 21, 2011, WMT removed the action to this Court, No. 1:11-cv-213-TWT. In their 2010 Complaint, Plaintiffs sought damages related to and arising from Elie Mims' total hip replacement and explant surgery for his right hip. On February 17, 2014, Plaintiffs executed a settlement agreement and release [3.1] (“Release”). The Release provides that Plaintiffs:

[C]ompletely release and forever discharge Wright Medical and its . . . parents . . . from any and all past, present or future claims, actions, causes of action, costs, expenses and compensation of any nature whatsoever, whether based on a tort, contract or other theory of recovery, which [Plaintiffs] now have or which may hereafter accrue or otherwise be acquired on [Plaintiffs'] behalf, without limitation, any and all known or unknown claims for bodily and personal injuries, which have resulted or may result from the alleged acts or omissions of any party hereto.

(Release ¶ 2). The Release applies to all claims Plaintiffs “have or may ever have against Wright Medical relating to or resulting from the implantation and use of Wright Medical hip systems and components into Elie M. Mims, . . . including any revisions thereto . . . .” (Id. ¶ 1).

         Under the settlement agreement, Plaintiffs received monetary compensation, and they acknowledged receipt of the agreed-upon funds in the Release. (Id.) The parties also agreed that the Release represented the “entire agreement among the parties hereto with respect to the subject matter hereof, ” (id. ¶ 12), and that the Release would be governed by Georgia law, (id. ¶20). Plaintiffs acknowledged that “their execution of this [R]elease is free and voluntary, ” (id. ¶ 13A), and that they signed the Release “voluntarily and of their own free will and assent[ed] to all the terms and conditions contained in this Release, ” (id. ¶ 21C). Plaintiffs further acknowledged that they had “reviewed this Release and had the opportunity to have it reviewed by their attorneys, ” (id. ¶ 15), and that they fully understood the “significance of all of the terms and conditions of this Release and have discussed it with their independent legal counsel, or have had a reasonable opportunity to do so, ” (id. ¶ 21B).

         On August 19, 2016, Plaintiffs filed a short-form complaint [1] (“2016 Complaint”) in this MDL based on Mr. Mims's replacement of, and explant surgery on, his left hip. The complaint alleges that Mr. Mims' left hip implant was a Wright Medical Conserve hip implant that was implanted on November 22, 2005. (2016 Complaint ¶ 9). Plaintiffs allege Mr. Mims's explant surgery took place on May 31, 2016. (2016 Complaint ¶ 11). Plaintiffs checked all fourteen possible causes of action in the short-form complaint.

         On October 18, 2016, Wright Medical filed its Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the clear and unequivocal language of the Release bars all of Plaintiffs' claims in their complaint. Plaintiffs claim that the Release applied only to injuries and damages arising from the failure to Mr. Mims's right hip, and that, at the time the parties entered into the Release and settlement agreement, no evidence existed that Mr. Mims's left hip had failed in any way, and Plaintiffs thus did not have a cause of action. Plaintiffs claim Mr. Mims only learned of issues with his left hip in 2016, after which he underwent a total revision surgery of his left hip to remove the WMT product.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard [1]

         On a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court must “assume that the factual allegations in the complaint are true and give the plaintiff[] the benefit of reasonable factual inferences.” Wooten v. Quicken Loans, Inc., 626 F.3d 1187, 1196 (11th Cir. 2010). Although reasonable inferences are made in the plaintiff's favor, “‘unwarranted deductions of fact' are not admitted as true.” Aldana v. Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., 416 F.3d 1242, 1248 (11th Cir. 2005) (quoting S. Fla. Water Mgmt. Dist. v. Montalvo, 84 F.3d 402, 408 n.10 (11th Cir. 1996)). Similarly, the Court is not required to accept conclusory allegations and legal conclusions as true. See Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)(construing Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009); Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007)).

         “To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570). Mere “labels and conclusions” are insufficient. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). This requires more than the “mere possibility of misconduct.” Am. Dental, 605 F.3d at 1290 (quoting Iqba ...


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