Exactech Recall Lawsuits Over Defective Knee, Ankle and Hip Replacements Centralized in MDL
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has determined that all federal Exactech recall lawsuits over defective knee, ankle and hip replacements will be centralized before one judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, for coordinated discovery and 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 joint failure 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 just last month the Exactech hip recall was expanded to add another 40,000 joint replacements that may fail prematurely.
Exactech Joint Replacement Lawsuits Each Involve Similar Allegations
Each of the product liability lawsuits filed in recent months raise similar questions of fact and law, indicating that Exactech joint failures were caused by the use of “out-of-specification” vacuum bags, which result in oxidation of the polyethylene inserts and the need for early revision surgery.
As the Exactech knee, ankle and hip joints continue to fail in the coming months, it is widely expected that several thousand claims will ultimately be brought against the manufacturer.
In June 2022, several plaintiffs filed a motion that called for the centralization of all Exactech lawsuits over the polyethylene inserts before a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, to avoid duplicative discovery, conflicting pretrial schedules and to serve the convenience of common witnesses and parties involved in the litigation that is currently spread out throughout the federal court system.
The manufacturer supported the creation of an MDL for the Exactech recall lawsuits, but indicated the cases should be centralized in either the Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of Louisiana instead.
Following oral arguments last month, the JPML issued a transfer order (PDF) on October 7, agreeing with plaintiffs and ordering the creation of an Exactech MDL in the Eastern District of New York, before U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis.
“While any number of proposed transferee districts could ably handle this litigation, we are persuaded that the Eastern District of New York is the appropriate transferee district for these cases,” the JPML order states. “The Eastern District of New York, where 26 cases are pending (over a third of the 75 total actions and potential tag-along actions), is a relatively underutilized transferee district. Several witnesses involved with the development of the Optetrak knee device may be found in the district at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS).”
October 2022 Exactech Recall Lawsuit Update
According to the 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.
Do You Have an Exactech Recall Lawsuits?
Lawyers are continuing to review and file potential claims for individuals who experienced problems with an Exactech knee, ankle or hip replacement since 2004. Find out if you or a loved one may be eligible for settlement.
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