DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuits Over Metal Hip Replacements Top 2500 in MDL

More than 2,500 lawsuits filed by individuals throughout the United States who allege that they experienced problems with DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip replacements have been consolidated in the federal court system, making the multidistrict litigation (MDL) one of the largest and fastest growing in the country.

The complaints all involve similar allegations that design defects associated with the DePuy Pinnacle hip caused the implant to loosen or fail within a few years, often resulting in the need for revision surgery to remove or replace the device.

All DePuy Pinnacle lawsuits filed in the federal court system have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in the Northern District of Texas as part of an MDL. The coordinated handling during pretrial proceedings is designed to avoid duplicative discovery, eliminate conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the witnesses, the parties and the courts.

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When the MDL was established by order of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in May 2011, there were about 57 lawsuits pending nationwide. However, according to an updated Master Case List (PDF) issued at the beginning of this month, there are now at least 2,564 cases in the MDL.

More than 700 of those product liability lawsuits were filed in August 2012, as the Master Case List stood at 1,841 as of July 31, 2012.

In an Order (PDF) issued August 27, Judge Kinkeade ordered plaintiffs and defendants in the DePuy Pinnacle litigation to meet with a Special Master to work out a plan for how explants, or revision surgeries to remove Pinnacle artificial hips, should be conducted in order to properly preserve the evidence.

According to a Case Management Order issued earlier last month, the first DePuy Pinnacle hip lawsuits are expected to be ready for trial by September 1, 2014.

DePuy Pinnacle Litigation Among Largest in Federal Court System

The rapid growth of the DePuy Pinnacle MDL makes it one of the fastest growing litigations in the United States, and puts it among the largest MDLs currently pending in the federal court system, joining the ranks of much older proceedings involving products like Yaz/Yasmin, Asbestos, Avandia, Chantix and hip replacement lawsuits filed over another DePuy product, the recalled DePuy ASR hip implant.

Nearly 5,000 DePuy ASR lawsuits have been filed over that newer metal-on-metal implant, which was removed from the market in August 2010 amid reports that it was failing in about 12% to 13% of patients within five years. The federal DePuy ASR litigation has been consolidated as part of a separate MDL, which is centralized before Judge David A. Katz in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, where the first trial dates are expected to begin in April 2013.

Allegations raised in the ASR lawsuits are similar to those brought in the Pinnacle litigation, as the DePuy ASR was approved based on the design of the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip. Lawsuits allege that problems with the DePuy hip replacements are caused by microscopic metal particles released from the implants as the metal parts rub against each other, a condition known as metallosis.

Manufacturers of other metal-on-metal hip replacement systems face similar claims over problems with their implants, including the Biomet M2A-Magnum hip replacement and Wright Medical Conserve Plus hip. However, each of those products are currently only the subject of a few dozen complaints at this time.


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