Sulzer has won an agreement with Sulzer Medica exempting it from financial obligations stemming from an implant settlement in the United States.
"Sulzer will no longer have any remaining risks when the settlement becomes effective," the company said in a statement. The settlement, which is to be ruled on at a final hearing in May, concerns faulty hip and knee implants.
Sulzer's former unit, Sulzer Medica, is facing claims from up to 4,000 patients who received defective implants. Thousands of mainly elderly patients, mostly in the US, needed replacement operations for lubricant-tainted implants produced by the medical device maker's US facility.
Sulzer's CEO, Fred Kindle, hopes the bilateral agreement will avoid further years of litigation. "I am confident that the settlement will overcome the last hurdles, and that we can finally close this chapter for Sulzer," he said.
Sulzer Medica earlier this month agreed to a tentative settlement with the plaintiffs' lawyers whereby each patient operated on will receive approximately $200,000 from Sulzer Medica and Sulzer.
Sulzer will hand over $50 million in cash, and will convert $200 million insurance policy to help pay for its share of the settlement. It will also make its packet of 480,000 Sulzer Medica shares, worth $25 million, available.
Sulzer said that despite its agreement to pay a share of the settlement, it does not accept responsibility for the defective implants.
"Sulzer accepts no legal or moral responsibility for the problems relating to the implants; the settlement will, however, allow it to avoid costly and lengthy litigation, and to concentrate fully on the business," the company said.
Sulzer Medica is prepared to pay out $720 million, with $400 million in cash and $300 million in other financial instruments.
The US district court Judge Kathleen O'Malley extended the injunction on the filing of individual claims until March 8. A final hearing to decide on the acceptability of the settlement will be held in the district court in Cleveland on May 6.
swissinfo with agencies
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