Coordination Sought for Zimmer NexGen Knee Cases in Federal, State Cts

Parties involved in the Zimmer NexGen knee replacement lawsuits are asking the U.S. District Judge presiding over the federal litigation to coordinate with state court judges assigned to a cases spread throughout the country.  

There are currently more than 1,250 product liability lawsuits pending in the federal court system involving claims for individuals who have experienced complications with a Zimmer NexGen knee. However, more than a dozen other cases are pending in various state courts involving the same knee replacement systems.

In 2011, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established centralized proceedings for all Zimmer NexGen cases filed in federal courts nationwide, centralizing the litigation for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer in the Northern District of Illinois. The lawsuits are being coordinated to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the courts, witnesses and the courts.

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In a joint update (PDF) filed on March 10, attorneys for plaintiffs and Zimmer asked Judge Pallmeyer to send a letter to judges presiding over 15 cases pending at the state court level in Indiana, Delaware, New York, Illinois and California, to establish “a relationship of coordination” between the courts.

Since the cases all involve the same Zimmer NexGen knee implants, the letter indicates that coordination will create efficiencies for all parties as the cases proceed. If approved by Judge Pallmeyer, the letter indicates that the parties in the federal litigation will notify state court judges when deadlines are set in the MDL, and encourages similar deadlines to be adopted “so that we may more easily and efficiently work together to handle any common disputes or issues that arise in these cases.”

In the federal MDL, Judge Pallmeyer is planning to schedule a series of early trials, known as “bellwether” cases because they are used to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout other cases.

A status conference is scheduled for March 21, at which time the parties are expected to discuss the selection of Zimmer NexGen cases for early trial dates. Each side has identified three lawsuits for first case picks, and filed responses to the cases proposed by the opposition.

Judge Pallmeyer previously indicated that the first cases will be ready for trial by January 2015. The preparation and outcome of these early trial dates may help facilitate further negotiations to reach Zimmer NexGen settlements that could resolve the litigation without the need for hundreds of trials throughout the country.


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