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A panel of federal judges has ordered that all Stryker LFit V40 hip lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide be consolidated before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings, as part of a new multidistrict litigation (MDL).
The Stryker LFit v40 is a femoral head implant used during hip replacements, in combination with several different types of Stryker hip systems. However, amid reports of taper lock failures with the cobalt-chromium femoral heads, which can cause painful and debilitating complications, the manufacturer issued a recall last year for certain sizes and lots of the component.
In recent months, a growing number of hip replacement lawsuits have been filed by individuals who experienced complications after receiving the component, indicating that design and manufacturing defects resulted in loss of mobility, pain, inflammation, adverse local tissue reactions, disassociation of the femoral head, dislocation, joint instability, broken bones around the hip implant and the need for risky revision surgery.
In January, a group of plaintiffs filed a request to centralize the Stryker LFit v40 litigation, asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer all cases to one judge for pretrial proceedings to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial orders and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.
Following oral arguments on March 30, the U.S. JPML issued a transfer order (PDF) on April 5, calling for all of the cases to be placed before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Stryker currently faces at least six lawsuits pending in three different districts, and the panel noted that it has been informed of at least 27 additional claims that appear to be related. The JPML notes that all parties support centralization, however differed on where the cases should be consolidated.
“After considering the argument of counsel, we find that the actions in this litigation involve common questions of fact, and that centralization in the District of Massachusetts will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation,” the JPML ruled. “While any number of the parties’ proposed transferee districts would be suitable, we are persuaded that the District of Massachusetts is the appropriate transferee district for this litigation. Five LFIT V40 cases in the District of Massachusetts are pending before Judge Indira Talwani, who has not yet had an opportunity to preside over an MDL docket.”
Similar centralized proceedings were previously established in both New Jersey and the federal court system following the 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 Stryker hip settlements to resolve cases involving individuals who required revision surgery after these recalled implant failed.
As part of any coordinated pretrial proceedings in the Stryker LFit v40 litigation, it is expected that a “bellwether” program will be established, where small groups of representative cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their case, and facilitate settlement negotiations.