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The start of the first federal trial involving a DePuy ASR hip replacement lawsuit has been delayed two weeks, after the federal judge presiding over the litigation rescheduled the start of the case, which was originally set to begin this week.
There are currently more than 7,800 complaints filed throughout the federal court system by individuals who experienced problems with a recalled DePuy ASR hip implant, which have been consolidated as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation that is centralized in the Northern District of Ohio.
U.S. District Judge David A. Katz is presiding over the cases for coordinated handling during the discovery phase and a series of early trial dates, known as “bellwether” trials because they are designed to help the parties gauge how juries will respond to evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout a number of cases.
In July, a complaint filed by Ann McCracken of New York was selected for the first DePuy ASR hip replacement trial in the MDL, and was set to begin on September 9. However, in an order (PDF) issued Friday, Judge Katz delayed the start of the trial until September 24.
Judge Katz indicates that he came to the decision after conferring with the parties and determining that additional time is needed for discovery and consideration of other legal matters, because of the delayed designation of the case for trial.
McCracken originally filed her complaint in March 2011, alleging that she received a DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement system in August 2009, months before the controversial implant was recalled from the market. Although artificial hips are typically expected to last 15 to 20 years, McCracken indicates that by January 2011, her implant had to be removed.
In August 2010, a Depuy ASR hip recall was issued after the manufacturer acknowledged that a higher-than-expected number of the implants were failing within a few years. By the time the DePuy ASR was removed from the market, more than 90,000 of the implants had already been sold worldwide and a good portion of the individuals who received the device in the United States are now pursuing product liability lawsuits.
While the McCracken case will be the first federal trial, at least two state court cases have already gone before juries. Earlier this year, a California jury awarded $8.3 million in damages and a second trial held in Illinois state court resulted in a defense verdict for the manufacturer.
In the federal MDL, if DePuy ASR settlement agreements are not reached following a series of bellwether trials, thousands of cases could be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for individual trial dates throughout the country.