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Nearly 4,000 product liability lawsuits have been filed nationwide over the recalled Stryker Rejuvenate hip replacement system, which was removed from the market in July 2012 amid reports that the modular femoral component is prone to corrode, fret and ultimately fail within a few years.
According to a status report (PDF) filed this week with the U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank, who is presiding over all federal cases centralized in the District of Minnesota, there are currently 1,772 lawsuits pending in the federal court system as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation.
Another 2,108 cases are pending in New Jersey state court, where centralized proceedings have been established before Superior Court Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergen County, as part an MCL, or Multicounty Litigation.
About 111 other cases are currently spread across nine different states, including Florida, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Oregon.
All of the lawsuits over Stryker Rejuvenate hip replacements involve similar allegations, claiming that the implant was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous, causing users to experience problems that often result in the need for risky revision surgery.
Unlike traditional hip implants, which feature a single femoral component, the Stryker Rejuvenate implant contained a modular neck-stem, with two pieces that fit inside of each other to allow the surgeon to customize the length of the femoral component based on the patient. However, the design has been linked to an increased risk of problems that may result from the release of microscopic metal debris as the chromium-cobalt neck rubs against the titanium femoral stem.
An estimated 20,000 Stryker Rejuvenate implants were sold before the recall was issued about two years ago, so additional cases are expected in the coming months and years, as additional individuals experience problems with their Stryker Rejuvenate hip replacement.
Stryker Rejuvenate Settlements and Trials
As the number of cases pending nationwide continues to increase, small groups of cases are being prepared for early trial dates in both the federal MDL and in New Jersey state court, with the first Stryker Rejuvenate trials expected to begin next summer.
While the outcomes of these early test cases will not be binding in other lawsuits, they are deigned to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that could be repeated throughout the litigation.
As part of the coordinate pretrial proceedings, the parties are also engaged in mediation programs designed to help facilitate Stryker Rejuvenate settlements without the need to schedule thousands of individual trials.
According to an update issued by Judge Martinotti last month, at least 17 of the 18 cases that have gone through the mediation process in New Jersey state court have resolved. Another ten cases are expected to be selected next month as part of the next phase of mediation efforts.
Judge Frank is scheduled to meet with the lawyers involved in the federal MDL today, to review the status of discovery, progress made in mediation efforts in the federal cases and other issues in the litigation.