MDL Judge to Meet With Exactech Recall Attorneys for Initial Status Conference November 17

Some attorneys are urging the judge overseeing Exactech recall litigation to quickly fill leadership positions due to the advanced status of similar cases filed in Florida state courts.

The U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over all federal Exactech recall lawsuits will meet with attorneys involved in the litigation for the first time next week, to discuss and organize the coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Dozens of Exactech knee replacement lawsuits and Exactech hip replacement lawsuits have been brought in U.S. District Courts nationwide in recent months, each raising similar allegations that polyethylene inserts sold with the joint replacement systems are failing prematurely, since they were packaged in defective vacuum bags, which exposed the plastic components to oxygen before they were implanted.

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 similar components used in Exactech Vantage ankle replacements.

Similar 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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Last month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all Exactech lawsuits in an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, and transferred the claims to U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in the Eastern District of New York, to coordinated discovery into common issues in the claims, avoid conflicting pretrial schedules and to serve the convenience of common witnesses and parties involved lawsuits that were spread out throughout the federal court system.

Initial Status Conference Scheduled in Exactech Recall MDL

Shortly after the MDL was established, Judge Garaufis announced that an initial status conference will be held on November 16. The docket entry indicated that the court will discuss the discovery status of pending cases with Exactech recall attorneys involved in the litigation, as well as the steps involved in appointing a group of lawyers to serve in various leadership positions and other pending motions.

The Exactech MDL judge also indicated the parties should be prepared to discuss the status of certain state court actions, which have been consolidated before Circuit Judge Judge Donna M. Keim in Alachua County Court, Florida, where Exactech’s U.S. headquarters are located.

A letter (PDF) submitted last month by an attorney representing several plaintiffs noted that the status of the Florida cases was far more advanced. The letter urged Judge Garaufis to move quickly to appoint attorneys to leadership positions, so that they can have attorneys involved in the litigation who have express authority to sign orders, agree to discovery issues or other issues which require a consensus. The letter notes many of those issues will also come up during the pretrial proceedings at the federal level as well.

Another letter (PDF), submitted by another plaintiffs’ attorney this week, also urged speed due to the advanced status of the Florida litigation, calling for the Court to obtain discovery documents already produced for the Florida cases. The letter also urges Judge Garaufis to quickly allow plaintiffs to file claims directly with the MDL court instead of waiting for cases to be transferred from their originating districts, and to swiftly approve the use of Short Form Complaints to further speed up the filing process.

November 2022 Exactech Recall Lawsuit Update

According to the original JPML order, there are currently at least 75 filed or pending complaints in different federal district courts nationwide, each involving similar questions of fact and law. These claims will be centralized before Judge Garaufis, who is expected to appoint a small group of plaintiffs lawyers to serve in various leadership positions as during the pretrial proceedings.

Over the coming months and years, it is widely expected that the size and scope of the litigation will continue to increase as knee replacement lawyers continue to review and file claims for individuals who experience an Exactech joint failure.

As part of the coordinated management of the litigation out of the Eastern District of New York, it is common for the Court to establish a “bellwether” program, where small groups of representative cases are scheduled for early trial dates to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims. However, if Exactech recall settlements are not reached following the MDL proceedings, each individual claim may later be remanded back to separate U.S. District Courts nationwide for future trial dates.


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