Exactech Pushes For Settlement Negotiations Instead of Trial Prep for Lawsuits Over Recalled Knee, Hip Implants

Court asked plaintiffs to respond to Exactech's request to hold off on further case-specific discovery by Friday, to determine whether scheduled trials will move forward or the parties will shift to global settlement negotiations.

With more than 2,000 Exactech knee recall lawsuits and hip recall lawsuits pending nationwide, and the first trial dates rapidly approaching, attorneys for the recalled implant manufacturer are asking for a private meeting with the judge presiding over the federal litigation, and calling for the court to prioritize global settlement negotiations over additional efforts to prepare claims for trial.

The litigation emerged after an Exactech recall was issued in February 2022, involving defective packaging that caused certain plastic components to degrade and fail after they were implanted into patients. The recall impacted 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. The Exactech hip recall was expanded in August 2022 to add another 40,000 joint replacements that may fail prematurely.

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, where the parties are actively preparing a group of representative cases for early trial dates that are expected to begin next year. However, there are also Exactech lawsuits pending in Florida state court, where the first bellwether trial is expected to begin on October 7, 2024.

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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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Global Exactech Knee and Hip Settlement Negotiations

As part of the coordinated management of the federal litigation, the parties are actively engaged in discovery for a small group of representative claims, which involve allegations that will be repeated throughout the litigation. These “bellwether” cases are being prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony, since prior attempts to settle Exactech claims have not been successful.

In a letter (PDF) sent to Judge Garaufis on March 22, attorneys for Exactech asked for an in camera (in chambers) conference to be held in the near future, to discuss a possible global settlement to the litigation before the first trial is set to begin in Florida in October of this year. The letter requested a stay of the MDL proceedings in the meantime.

“With the number of pending cases in this MDL and in the Florida Coordinated Proceeding and other jurisdictions around the country now exceeding 2,000, the cost of this litigation for Exactech and for Plaintiffs has been substantial and will continue to rapidly increase with company witness depositions set to take place in early April,” the letter states. “Before both sides incur further litigation expenses, Exactech’s counsel believes it is important to be heard in chambers as soon as practicably possible to discuss potential global mediation of this litigation, and also apprise the Court of certain other issues relevant to the bellwether trials in Florida and this MDL.”

In response, a docket order was issued on March 25 denying Exactech’s request to pause the litigation, and giving plaintiffs until March 29 to respond to the hearing request.

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.

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 the average Exactech lawsuit payouts awarded to individuals with recalled knee and hip implants may influence how much the manufacturer is required to pay to avoid hundreds of separate trial dates nationwide.

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