The judge presiding over the federal DePuy ASR hip litigation has appointed 34 different attorneys to serve in various leadership roles. The lawyers will perform actions during discovery and pretrial proceedings in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) that will benefit all plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit over problems with a DePuy ASR hip replacement.
In December, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated and centralized the DePuy hip recall lawsuits before Judge David A. Katz in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The litigation includes all federal lawsuits filed over the recalled metal-on-metal hip replacement, which was implanted in tens of thousands of people before it was discovered that the design was linked to a higher-than-expected failure rate.
Consolidating the lawsuits into an MDL allows the parties to eliminate repeat discovery on common factual issues that will come up throughout all of the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges in different courts and serves the convenience of the witnesses, lawyers and the courts.
At the time the DePuy ASR hip litigation was centralized before Judge Katz, there were seven cases that had been filed in various federal district courts throughout the United States. In less than 60 days since the MDL was formed, the number of cases transferred into the MDL has ballooned to more than 175 lawsuits, and many DePuy hip recall attorneys anticipate that thousands of cases will ultimately be part of the consolidated litigation.
All of the complaints contain similar allegations that DePuy Orthopaedics Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, manufactured and sold defective metal-on-metal hip implants, and that the company failed to warn doctors and patients that a individuals who received a DePuy ASR hip replacement face a high risk that their implant will fail within a few years of surgery, often resulting in severe pain and the need for additional hip revision surgery.
In an order issued last week, Judge Katz appointed attorneys Ellen Relkin and Steven J. Skikos to serve as co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. They will oversee an executive committee that includes four other attorneys. Judge Katz also appointed 13 other attorneys to serve on a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, four attorneys to serve on a Science Committee, six attorneys to serve on a Discovery Committee and two attorneys to serve on a Law & Motions Committee. Three other lawyers were appointed to serve as Plaintiffs’ Liasion Counsel, Liasion Counsel to the California state court DePuy ASR litigation and Liasion Counsel to the New Jersey state court litigation.
The Court will hold a status conference with the newly appointed Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee on February 8, 2011 at 10:00 a.m., followed by an open court conference that will begin at 1:00 p.m.
While the pretrial management of the cases in an MDL is often managed similar to how a DePuy hip recall class action would be handled, each claim will still remain an individual lawsuit. If a DePuy ASR settlement agreement is not reached following pretrial proceedings and any bellwether jury trials, each of the consolidated cases would be subject to remand back to the jurisdiction where they were originally filed for trial.
The DePuy ASR is a metal-on-metal hip replacement system developed in 2005. In August 2010, a DePuy recall was issued for the ASR XL Acetabular System and the ASR Hip Resurfacing System after the manufacturer acknowledged that the systems had five year failure rates of 13% and 12%, respectively. However, many experts expect that the actual percentage of people who will have problems with a DePuy ASR hip will be substantially higher.