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Biomet hit with metal hip lawsuit in Canada

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A Canadian patient is suing Biomet for damages, alleging it sold a malfunctioning and harmful metal-on-metal hip implant. The class-action lawsuit adds to the burden of hundreds of related U.S. court cases already in the pipeline against the Indiana company.

News of the latest Biomet lawsuit comes as Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) DePuy unit reportedly has agreed to a $4 billion-plus settlement to resolve thousands of lawsuits it faces from patients alleging its all-metal hip implants were defective and injured them. Johnson & Johnson may be close to resolution, but its hip implant rivals continue to face legions of lawsuits with no end in sight.

The law firm Bernstein Liebhard, which is representing metal hip patient-plaintiffs, disclosed the Biomet legal action, which involves the company's M2a Magnum implant. Court documents in the case were filed earlier in November in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the firm said.

Biomet, a rumored takeover target, has taken steps to reduce its dependence on hip and knee implants, its largest business line, and a division that remained flat at about $1.7 billion in sales through fiscal 2013. To that end, Biomet snatched up a former DePuy division in 2012 in order to boost its offerings in the sports, extremities and trauma space. That unit hit $600.1 million in sales for the fiscal year, a 66% hike for the division thanks to that acquisition. Recently, Biomet also inked a deal to buy Lanx, a venture-backed company with a number of FDA-cleared fusion systems that Biomet will use to beef up its own spine business.

Meanwhile, Biomet's U.S. hip cases are slowly advancing (Bernstein Liebhard estimates they surpass 700), rival Stryker ($SYK) is dealing with dozens of lawsuits of its own and Johnson & Johnson is on the cusp of resolving most of the crushing metal hip cases it currently faces.

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