All federal lawsuits over DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement problems have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which will be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Following oral arguments held last week, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order on Monday establishing the MDL, which will result in the transfer of at least 57 DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits currently pending in federal district courts throughout the United States.
The litigation will be centralized before Judge James E. Kinkeade for coordinated handling. In addition, as new complaints are filed by individuals who have experienced problems with a DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement, those cases will also be transferred to the Northern District of Texas for pretrial proceedings.
All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations that the DePuy Pinnacle Acetabular Cup System was defectively designed or manufactured, and that inadequate warnings were provided about the risk of complications or problems following hip replacement.
The MDL Panel determined that the actions all involve common questions of fact and that centralization of the cases will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses, as well as promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation. Establishing a DePuy Pinnacle Hip MDL will also help eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings on discovery and other issues, and conserve the resources of the parties, the lawyers and the court.
A request to consolidate the DePuy Pinnacle hip litigation was first filed in March by a plaintiff who suggested that the cases be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas or the Central District of California. However, a number of other plaintiffs with cases pending throughout the U.S. filed responses suggesting other courts as well.
DePuy and Johnson & Johnson supported centralization of the DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits, but requested that the cases be handled out of the Northern District of Texas, or in the alternative, the Southern District of Iowa or Southern District of Texas.
The Panel selected the Northern District of Texas for the DePuy Pinnacle MDL because it is a geographically central location and has favorable docket conditions. The cases will be assigned to Judge James E. Kinkeade, who is currently presiding over at least one of the cases, as the Panel determined that Judge Kinkeade has a current caseload conducive to handling the litigation.
Although plaintiffs requested that the centralized proceedings only include the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacements, excluding those that use a polyethylene liner, the Panel determined that at this early stage the scope of the docket will not be limited. Therefore, lawsuits over all configurations of the DePuy Pinnacle Acetabular Cup System will be included as part of the MDL, as the manufacturer requested.
The Panel did point out that the assigned judge may later refine the issues or establish separate scheduling tracks to efficiently manager the litigation if necessary.