Apr 27 2011

Former baseball umpire wins settlement for faulty hip replacement
BRIDGEPORT-- Former Major League Baseball umpire Mark Hirschbeck, whose career ended when his artificial hip shattered, agreed Monday to settle a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the maker of the hip replacement.

The settlement, with Wright Medical Technology of Arlington, Tenn., was reached before Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis as the case was about to go to trial.

By agreement, the terms of the settlement were not disclosed. However, Hirschbeck's lawyers, Edward Gavin and Joel Faxon, had initially offered to settle the case with Wright for $3 million.

Officials for Wright did not immediately return calls for comment.

The 50-year-old Hirschbeck, who lives in Ansonia, said he was happy with the settlement.

Among the witnesses Gavin and Faxon had planned to call during the trial was former Mets manager Bobby Valentine and Hirshbeck's older brother, John Hirschbeck, who is also a major league umpire.

Hirschbeck, who grew up in Stratford, had been a major league umpire for 15 years, reaching a career milestone when he umpired in the 2001 World Series. But a stabbing pain in his right hip forced him to leave his position at third base during an April 2003 game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies.

"Years of squatting, bending and running had taken a toll on my right hip," he explained.

In June of that year, Hirschbeck underwent hip replacement surgery by Dr. John Keggi, at Waterbury Hospital.

"He told me he gave me the Rolls Royce in artificial hips and I wouldn't have to worry and could go back to umpiring," he said. But about a month later the ceramic hip replacement, made by Wright Medical Technology, of Tennessee, shattered while Hirschbeck was sitting on his living room couch watching TV.

Hirschbeck subsequently suffered an infection in the hip and four more operations to correct the damage left him permanently disabled, and at age 42 he had to quit his more than $350,000 job as an umpire.

In addition to Wright, Hirschbeck sued Keggi who agreed to pay an undisclosed settlement earlier this year.

The Joe Driscoll Foundation has been established in memory of longtime CBUA Member & Past President and 3-time College World Series Umpire Joe Driscoll.

In 2007,  Joe died of a massive heart attack as he was preparing to leave for his game at Tufts University.

Joe was truly a legend in college baseball umpiring. His generosity and willingness to give back to the game he loved guided us to establish The Joe Driscoll Foundation in his memory.

Each year, the Joe Driscoll Foundation awards $2000 scholarships to students who are related to a member of our association.