Exactech Supports MDL for Lawsuits Over Recalled Knee, Hip and Ankle Replacements
In response to a request filed by plaintiffs to centralize all Exactech lawsuits over recalled knee, hip and ankle replacements, the manufacturer has filed a response indicating the company supports centralizing the cases before one judge for pretrial proceedings.
In February 2022, a recall was issued for 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.
At that time, the manufacturer warned that the polyethylene inserts were packaged in “out-of-specification” vacuum bags, which exposed the plastic parts to oxygen before surgery, increasing the risk of premature failure once the implant is in the body.
Similar problems have also impacted nearly 90,000 recalled Exactech Novation and Acumatch hip implants since 2008, which may exhibit early signs of failure due to problems with a polyethylene Connexion GXL acetabular liner.
Since then dozens of Exactech knee replacement lawsuits have been filed by individuals who experienced problems requiring revision surgery, and a handful of Exactech hip replacement lawsuits and ankle replacement lawsuits have also been filed.
In June, several plaintiffs filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), calling for the centralization of all Exactech lawsuits over the polyethylene inserts before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings, indicating there are currently at least 27 complaints pending in 11 different federal district courts nationwide.
Each of the lawsuits raise similar questions of fact and law, according to the motion, which would benefit from coordinated management during discovery into common issues in the claims. In addition, as knee replacement lawyers continue to review and file claims over the coming months and years, the size and scope of the litigation is expected to increase.
Exactech Implant MDL Would Reduce Duplicative Discovery and Avoid Conflicting Pretrial Rulings
On July 20, Exactech filed a response supporting centralization (PDF) of the cases, calling for them to be consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Plaintiffs have called for the cases to be consolidated in the Eastern District instead.
“Plaintiffs generally claim that their devices prematurely failed or caused damage, requiring the devices to be removed and causing personal injuries. They allege product liability and related claims,” Exactech’s motion states. “Additional similar actions have been filed in multiple state courts.”
Both Exactech and plaintiffs believe consolidating the cases before one judge will prevent conflicting rulings and motions, duplicative discovery and will serve the convenience of the Court, witnesses and parties involved. Exactech also says it is trying to prevent its employees and experts from having to go through multiple depositions.
Exactech argues in its filing that no joint replacement design can guarantee infinite functional life, and that many factors can contribute to the failing of an implant. However, plaintiffs blame the problems on the faulty vacuum bags, which Exactech admits caused problems that it is now trying to fix with the recalls. The company claims, however, that very few implants linked to the problem have actually failed, despite the growing number of lawsuits.
The U.S. JPML is not expected to schedule oral arguments on the petitions until this Fall.
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