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Motion to Centralize Wright Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacement Lawsuits

A motion has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate and centralize all federal Wright Conserve hip replacement lawsuits that have been brought in courts throughout the United States by individuals who experienced problems after receiving the metal-on-metal artificial hip system. 

At least five complaints have been filed against Wright Medical in five different federal district courts by individuals who allege that their metal-on-metal Wright Conserve Plus hip system failed within a few years of implant, often resulting in the need for revision surgery.

Since the FDA approved the Wright metal-on-metal hip replacement system under their controversial 510(k) approval system, more than 200 adverse event reports have been submitted by patients or physicians, which likely only represents 1% to 10% of the total number of problems with Wright Conserve hip replacements.

According to a motion filed Danny James on November 29, the plaintiff has requested that all current and future Wright Conserve cases be transferred to the Southern District of Georgia or the Northern District of Georgia for coordinated handling by one judge as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL.

All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations of design defects involving the Conserve acetabular cup, which plaintiffs claim has a tendency to loosen and fail as metal particles are shed into the body from the metal parts rubbing against each other.

The Wright Conserve hip system is a metal-on-metal design, which consists of cast cobalt chromium molybdenum that provides the receptacle for the cobalt chromium molybdenum femoral head. The metal femoral head rotates within the metal monoblock Conserve Cup, which does not have a liner, resulting in the release of metal particles that can cause metal toxicity in the blood, soft tissue and bone. This can result in metallosis, tissue necrosis, pseudotumors and other problems, according to the complaints.

Despite the belief that the metal hip designs would last longer, a number of implant registries worldwide have found that metal-on-metal hip replacement systems like the Wright Conserve Plus, are failing years before they should.

In May 2011, the FDA asked Wright Medical and other metal-on-metal hip makers to obtain more information about the level at which the metal particles shed by hip replacements becomes dangerous, how much metal they actually shed and to quantify the potential side effects of metallosis.

The Wright Conserve Cup features a similar design to the DePuy ASR Cup, which was recalled in August 2010 after data suggested that a higher-than-expected number of people had their artificial hip fail within a few years. Due to the similarities between the designs, the MDL motion suggests that a Wright Conserve hip recall is likely to be issued as well.

In the motion, James points out that other MDLs have been created for litigation stemming from other metal-on-metal hip implants, including the federal DePuy ASR hip lawsuits and DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits.

James argues that centralizing the Wright Conserve metal-on-metal hip lawsuits as part of an MDL will serve the convenience of the parties, prevent duplicative discovery and avoid conflicting pretrial rulungs from different judges.

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