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While a panel of federal judges is set to consider next month whether to centralize all Stryker LFit v40 hip lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, a similar request has been filed with the New Jersey Supreme Court, seeking to establish coordinated pretrial proceedings before one state court judge for all cases brought by individuals who experienced problems from the recalled femoral head.
The Stryker LFit v40 is a femoral head implant used in recent years as part of several different types of Stryker hip replacement systems. However, amid reports of taper lock failures with the cobalt-chromium femoral heads, which can cause painful and debilitating complications, the manufacturer issued a recall last year for certain sizes and lots of the component.
In recent months, a growing number of Stryker femoral head recall lawsuits have been filed by individuals nationwide, indicating that complications were caused by design and manufacturing defects, which can result in loss of mobility, pain, inflammation, adverse local tissue reactions, disassociation of the femoral head, dislocation, joint instability, broken bones around the hip implant and the need for risky revision surgery.
In addition to cases filed in various different U.S. District Courts throughout the federal court system, dozens of complaints have been brought in New Jersey state court, which is where the manufacturer’s U.S. headquarters are located. In addition, as hip replacement lawyers continue to review and file claims, the size of the litigation is expected to continue to grow rapidly.
A group of plaintiffs have filed a request (PDF) with the Administrative Director of the New Jersey Courts, seeking to establish a multi-county litigation (MCL) in the state, which would transfer all cases brought throughout the New Jersey court system to one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
“The recall of this component will implicate many hip implants. Both prior to the recall and in response to the growing problems associated with this Stryker femoral head, at least eighty-five cases alleging personal injury as a result of defective hip implants have been filed in New Jersey state courts, and we anticipate that more cases will be filed in New Jersey in the coming weeks to months to years,” according to the letter sent on behalf of 25 plaintiffs. “Many of the filed cases involve patients who have required revision surgery to remove and replace the head or stem, a very painful and invasive surgery.”
A similar request was filed last month in the federal court system, and the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 30, over whether to transfer cases from U.S. District Courts nationwide to one judge to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial orders and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.
Known as a multi-district litigation (MDL) in the federal court system, if the Stryker femoral head litigation is centralized in both New Jersey state court and the federal courts, the judges will likely coordinate pretrial schedules and discovery orders.
Similar centralized proceedings were previously established in both New Jersey and the federal court system following the 2012 Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II recall, which resulted in thousands of lawsuits brought by individuals nationwide. Following coordinated discovery, the manufacturer agreed to pay more than $1 billion in Stryker hip settlements to resolve cases involving individuals who required revision surgery after these recalled implant failed.
As part of any coordinated pretrial litigation in the Stryker femoral head lawsuits, it is expected that the courts will establish a “bellwether” program, where small groups of representative cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their case, and facilitate settlement negotiations.