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Howmedica Opposes Stryker LFit v40 Lawsuit MDL Motion

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The makers of the recalled Stryker LFit V40 femoral head hip implants is opposing a recent request to consolidate all federal product liability lawsuits filed by individuals nationwide who received the device.

There are a growing number of Stryker hip lawsuits being pursued in various different courts by individuals who experienced problems after receiving an LFit v40 femoral head, which was removed from the market last year amid a large number of reports involving premature failure, corrosion and cobalt metal blood poisoning. As additional devices continue to fail in the future, it is ultimately expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of related cases may be filed in the coming months and years.

Last month, a request was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), seeking to centralize the cases before one federal judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, given the similar questions of fact and law raised in the claims. Known as a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation, the consolidation is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the court system.

In a response (PDF) filed on February 3, Howmedica Osteonics Corp, which is better known as Stryker Orthopaedics, indicates that it opposes the formation of an MDL for cases involving LFit v40 femoral stems, pointing out that there are currently too few cases to warrant centralization, and that many of the cases involve components not impacted by the August 2016 Stryker hip recall.

“Notably, the LFit V40 femoral head is not a standalone product. It must be used with an entire hip replacement system containing different parts, and it can be mated with any one of twenty different femoral stems, as well as any number of different acetabular cups,” wrote the manufacturer in the response. “When taking into account the numerous other potential femoral stems that can be or have been mated with Lfit femoral heads (e.g. Accolade II, Rejuvenate, ABG II, Meridian, Citation, Secur-Fit, Restoration), there are thousands of potential compinations.”

The manufacturer maintains that there would be no benefit from centralizing all Stryker LFit V40 lawsuits, since individual issues will predominate the litigation.

In a response in support (PDF) filed on behalf of several plaintiffs on February 9, the common problems with the Stryker hip replacements are highlighted, indicating that the issues are not limited to the small subset of products voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer.

“While Lfit v40 heads vary in size, every head is the same alloy and has exactly the same taper angle for engagement and fixation. Every Lfit v40 head is impacted onto every Stryker femoral stem in the exact same way and each fits on every one of those stems exactly the same irrespective of the stem’s size, alloy, shape or brand name. Once implanted all LFit v40 heads serve the same purpose and are designed to fulfill the same function,” according to the response filed this week, which suggests that there is a problems across the entire Stryker hip product line.

The U.S. JPML is expected to consider oral arguments on the motion during an upcoming hearing set for March 30, in Phoenix, Arizona.

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