Knee Replacement Lawsuits Against Exactech To Be Prepared For First Bellwether Trial in June 2025
The U.S. District Judge presiding over all Exactech knee, hip and ankle lawsuits filed in federal courts nationwide, has called for parties to select 12 knee replacement lawsuits that will be eligible for a series of early bellwether trial dates, which will begin in the mid-2025.
Exactech faces more than 1,100 product liability 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 claim 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.
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 Knee Injury Bellwether Trial Selections
As part of the management for the growing litigation, Judge Garaufis has established a bellwether process, where small groups of claims involving allegations that have been repeated throughout a large number of other claims will be prepared for a series of early trial dates, to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on January 26, Judge Garaufis called for the first bellwether trials to focus on knee replacement lawsuits, involving complications with Exactech Optetrak, Optetrak Logic and Truliant knee implants.
The Court will establish two preliminary bellwether pools; one focusing on cases filed directly in the Eastern District of New York (the EDNY Preliminary Pool), and the other involving a National Preliminary Pool, focusing on cases filed in other districts.
The EDNY Preliminary Pool will consist of 12 cases, with eight randomly selected, and plaintiffs and defendants each picking two other cases. The National Preliminary Pool will be selected in the same way.
All of the claims must involve Exactech knee replacements, and must have been filed by July 1, 2023, with a Plaintiff Fact Sheet substantially completed by August 31, 2023.
The EDNY plaintiff and defendant bellwether pool selections must be turned in by February 8, and the national pool selections are due by March 1. In both cases, parties will get to make four strikes each from the list, reducing the final number of pool cases to four.
The first Exactech knee replacement lawsuit that will go before a jury will come from the New York trial pool, and is scheduled to begin on June 2, with a second bellwether trial from the same pool set to begin on August 5, 2025.
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 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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