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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Smith & Nephew Birmingham hip lawsuits indicates that the coordinated federal litigation will include cases involving any component approved as part of the hip resurfacing system, even when it was used as part of a total hip replacement.
In May 2017, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided to centralize and consolidate all product liability lawsuits involving problems with the Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) system before Judge Catherine C. Blake in the District of Maryland.
There are currently more than 250 cases pending in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), each raising similar allegations that the metal-on-metal hip resurfacing and replacement designs are defective and prone to fail, often requiring revision surgery to have them removed and replaced. However, as hip replacement lawyers continue to investigate and file cases for individuals nationwide, it is expected that the size of the litigation may increase rapidly in the coming months.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on May 3, Judge Blake indicated that the parties agree that all complaints involving components of the BHR system should be included in the MDL, including the R3 acetabular shell and metal liner that may be used as part of a total hip replacement.
The Smith & Nephew Birmingham hip replacement lawsuits will proceed on a separate track from the claims involving hip resurfacing procedures, and the Court will periodically direct the parties to file lists identifying which cases are on each track.
The Smith & Nephew Birmingham hip was one of the first metal-on-metal hip replacement systems on the market, and concerns were raised about its safety even before it was approved. A competitor, Wright Medical, attempted to stop the devices from getting approved, filing a citizen’s petition with the FDA in 2006, asking the agency to reject the application for the BHR, due to concerns over the adequacy of the clinical trials used to obtain premarket approval.
As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings before Judge Blake, it is expected that a small group of representative “bellwether” cases will be be selected, which would be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their cases.