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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Stryker LFit V40 hip implant lawsuits indicates that the first “bellwether” trial will go before a jury in September 2019, as part of a process where a small group of cases will be prepared for trial to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout hundreds of pending lawsuits.
The Stryker LFit v40 is a femoral head used in several hip replacement systems, which was removed from the market last year amid a higher-than-expected number of reports involving Stryker hip complications linked to the implant, including taper lock failures with the cobalt-chromium femoral head that may result in pain, inflammation, loss of mobility, disassociation and the need for risky revision surgery.
Since June 2017, all hip implant lawsuits involving issues with the Stryker LFit v30 have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation, to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial orders and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.
On October 25, Judge Talwani issued a case management order (PDF), which outlines the process for exchanging information between the parties, and selecting a group of bellwether cases in the next few months.
The parties have been directed to submit a proposed order by December 1, which addresses procedures for identifying cases and procedures regarding case-specific discovery. The parties are expected to identify the small group of bellwether cases by February 2, 2018, with common fact discovery completed by October 4, 2018. The parties will then engage in expert discovery and file pretrial motions about the admissibility of evidence by March 2019.
If Stryker LFit hip settlements are not reached following the discovery process, the Court indicates that the first bellwether trial will commence on September 16, 2019.
While the outcome of such bellwether trials are not binding on other plaintiffs, they are closely watched in complex product liability litigation, where large numbers of cases raise similar allegations and injury claims.
Similar centralized proceedings were previously established in the federal court system following a 2012 Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II recall, which resulted in thousands of lawsuits brought by individuals nationwide. Following coordinated discovery in that litigation, the manufacturer agreed to pay more than $1 billion in hip implant settlements to resolve cases for individuals who required revision surgery after these recalled implant failed.