Exactech Faces More Than 1,500 Lawsuits Over Recalled Knee, Hip and Ankle Replacements

Lawyers have exchanged a list of Exactech lawsuits over knee, hip and ankle replacements which could serve as the first bellwether cases to go before juries in the federal court system

According to recent court filings, Exactech faces more than 1,100 knee, hip and ankle replacement lawsuits throughout the federal court system, with more than 400 additional cases spread across different state courts nationwide, each raising similar allegations that manufacturing defects caused the joint implants to fail prematurely.

The Exactech knee implant lawsuits, hip implant lawsuits and ankle lawsuits indicate that “out-of-specification” vacuum sealed bags were used with a plastic tibial insert component in recent years, allowing oxygen to reach the artificial knee, hip and ankle implants long before they were placed in the body. This has been shown to increase the risk of degradation and premature failure, often resulting in the need for additional surgery to remove the component only a few years later.

The litigation emerged after an Exactech recall was issued in February 2022, impacting more than than 140,000 Optetrak, Optetrak Logic and Truliant knee replacement systems implanted in patients since 2004, as well as 1,500 components used in Exactech Vantage ankle replacements. Similar packaging problems have also impacted Exactech Novation and Acumatch hip implants since 2008, which were recalled in June 2021, and the Exactech hip recall was expanded in August 2022, to add another 40,000 joint replacements that may fail prematurely.

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Knee Replacement Lawsuits

Design problems with several types of knee implants have resulted in lawsuits for individuals who experienced painful complications.

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Given common questions of fact and law raised in the complaints filed throughout the federal court system, consolidated pretrial proceedings have been established before U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in the Eastern District of New York, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Exactech Lawsuits Continue to be Filed

According to a joint status report (PDF) issued on December 11, there are currently 1,151 Exactech knee, hip and ankle replacement lawsuits which have been transferred to the multidistrict litigation for coordinated pretrial proceedings. Those include 951 claims filed over Exactech knee implants, 191 Exactech hip replacement lawsuits and nine cases filed over ankle implants.

In addition, plaintiffs have filed 368 lawsuits in Florida state court, including 268 knee implant claims, 94 hip implant lawsuits, and six ankle replacement lawsuits. There are another 17 claims filed in Illinois, and 24 cases pending in various other states nationwide, the report indicates.

As part of the management of the litigation, Judge Garaufis has indicated he will schedule a small number of representative claims for early test trials, to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims. Earlier this year, he called for parties to propose an Exactech bellwether plan for the selection and preparation of those cases for the first federal trials.

December 2023 Exactech Lawsuit Update

The parties first filed an Exactech bellwether plan, attempting to coordinate with the Florida state cases, in August. However, the status report indicates they filed an amended bellwether plan in October, which Judge Garaufis has yet to sign off on.

In anticipation of his approval of the plan, the parties note they have already exchanged lists of cases they believe are eligible to be included in the first two initial bellwether pools, and say they are close to an agreement on the two lists.

Plaintiffs and defendants indicate they are prepared to discuss the MDL bellwether plan at the next status conference, which is scheduled for December 20.

Judge Donna Keim of the Eighth Judicial Circuit is currently overseeing the Exactech lawsuits in Florida state court, and has previously indicated that the first case will go to trial in the state in October 2024. However, there has not yet been a trial date set in the federal MDL.

Although the outcomes of any bellwether trials in the federal MDL or Florida state court will have no binding impact on other lawsuits in the litigation, they will be closely watched and may have a large impact on any Exactech recall settlements the manufacturer offers to avoid the need for hundreds of individual trials to be scheduled in the coming years.


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