Arguments Scheduled Over Consolidation Biomet Magnum Hip Litigation

A panel of federal judges is scheduled to hear oral arguments next month on whether all federal product liability lawsuits over Biomet M2A Magnum hip replacements should be consolidated before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. 

According to a hearing schedule (PDF) issued by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), a motion to consolidate the artificial hip litigation will be considered on September 20 in New York City.

At the time the motion was filed in July, there were at least eight Biomet Magnum lawsuits pending in five different U.S. District Courts. It appears that number has already grown to include about 40 cases since then.

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Common Allegations Raised in Biomet Hip Lawsuits

All of the complaints involve common allegations that design defects associated with the metal-on-metal artificial hip caused plaintiffs to experience complications where the implant loosened, released metal debris into the body and often failed after only a few years.

The FDA has received at least 450 complaints involving Biomet Magnum hip problems, including 159 received during the first fives months of 2012, suggesting that there will be a significant number of lawsuits over the Biomet Magnum filed by hip replacement lawyers in coming months.

Plaintiffs allege that they have suffered pain, trouble walking, metal blood poisoning, soft tissue damage around the implant and often indicate that they required additional revision surgery to have the Biomet Magnum removed when it failed prematurely.

Biomet Opposes Consolidation

On July 19, Biomet filed a response with the JPML opposing the centralization of the M2A-Magnum litigation. The medical device manufacturer suggested that the formation of a M2A-Magnum MDL was inappropriate because the cases will each be dominated by specific circumstances related to each individual plaintiff. The company also claims that it has a track record of settling lawsuits and reaching other resolutions, making consolidation unnecessary.

The original motion to consolidate was filed by plaintiffs Leyda Ching and Dianne Winningham, who suggested that the lawsuits be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Biomet has indicated that if the litigation is consolidated, the cases should be centralization in the Southern District of New York.

Such consolidation is used in complex litigation where there are a large number of claims involving similar allegations or facts. The process is designed to reduce duplicative discovery across many cases, eliminate contradictory pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the witnesses, the parties and the courts.

At least three other multidistrict litigations have already been established for other metal-on-metal hip replacement systems, which have been linked to similar problems to those seen with the Biomet M2A-Magnum. The DePuy ASR hip litigation is centralized in the Northern District of Ohio, the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip litigation is centralized in the Northern District of Texas and the Wright Conserve hip litigation has been centralized in the Northern District of Georgia.

At the MDL panel meeting in September, a group of federal judges will determine whether the cases qualify for a Biomet Magnum hip MDL and determine the most appropriate forum.


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