More than 775 Exactech Lawsuits Over Faulty Knee Replacements, Hip Replacements and Ankle Replacements Pending Nationwide: Report

Exactech lawsuits continue to be filed in both state and federal courts as the parties try to develop an acceptable plan for early bellwether trials.

Lawyers involved in lawsuits over recalled Exactech knee, hip and ankle replacements met with the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation today, reporting that there are already more than 775 complaints filed in federal and state courts nationwide over defects that make the implants prone to fail.

Each of the Exactech lawsuits raise similar allegations, indicating that “out-of-specification” vacuum sealed bags were used with a plastic tibial insert component, allowing oxygen to reach the knee, hip and ankle implants long before they were placed in the body, increasing 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 similar 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.

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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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Given common questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, all Exactech knee replacement lawsuits and Exactech hip replacement lawsuits filed in the federal court system are currently centralized before U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis in the Eastern District of New York, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Exactech Lawsuits Continue to be Filed

In advance of an Exactech lawsuit status conference held today before Judge Garaufis, the parties submitted a joint report (PDF) late last week, indicating there are currently 571 lawsuits pending, or being transferred to, the Exactech MDL. Of those, the vast majority, 481 cases, involve Exactech knee implants.

In addition, 82 claims involve hip implants and seven of which involve ankle products have been filed in the federal MDL. In addition, one Exactech recall class action lawsuit has also been brought, seeking economic damages for all individuals who received the defective implant, even if it has not yet failed.

The lawyers also reported that another 185 cases have been filed in Florida state court, where consolidated proceedings have been established in the Eighth Judicial Circuit of Florida, Alachua County. Again, most of the claims, 140, involve knee products, 43 involve hip implants and two involve ankle products. There are also 23 cases pending in other state courts.

Exactech Lawsuit Bellwether Trial Plan Under Consideration

As part of the management of the litigation, it is expected that Judge Garaufis will schedule a small number of representative claims for early test trials, to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims.

In the joint status report, the parties indicate that they agree a group of 12 cases should be presented to the Court, together with briefs explaining their respective positions on why those cases are representative of other lawsuits in the litigation and suitable as a bellwether. The parties then indicate that the Court should narrow the selections to six cases that will go through full case-specific discovery and be prepared for trial, including 3 knee replacement lawsuits and 1 hip replacement lawsuit, with one additional knee and hip implant claim selected as backup cases.

While the parties agree on the number of cases that should be selected, they indicate that there is a disagreement about the selection process and how to handle waivers that will allow claims to be tried before Judge Garaufis in the MDL, as opposed to the U.S. District Courts where they originated. Therefore, these issues and their respective plans will be discussed with the Court at the status hearing.

In the Florida state court litigation, the parties indicate that competing bellwether proposals were submitted to Judge Donna Keim of the Eighth Judicial Circuit on April 14, which is currently considering the briefing and has not issued a ruling about a trial plan.

Although the outcome of any bellwether trials in the federal MDL or Florida state court will not have any 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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