MDL Judge Seeks Coordination With Stryker Hip Mediation Program in NJ
The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Stryker Rejuvenate hip lawsuits has ordered several attorneys representing plaintiffs in the litigation to coordinate with peers working on similar claims in New Jersey state court, where a number of cases have settled during court-ordered mediation efforts.
There are currently more than 1,700 cases filed throughout the country by individuals who allege they experienced problems with Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II modular hip systems, which were recalled in July 2012 due to an increased risk of corrosion, loosening and failure within a few years.
Unlike traditional hip implants, which feature a single femoral component, the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II contains a modular neck-stem, which consists of two pieces that fit inside each other to allow the surgeon to customize the length of the femoral component based on the patient. However, the design has been linked to an increased risk of problems that may result from the release of microscopic metal debris as the chromium-cobalt neck rubs against the titanium femoral stem.
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Although hip implants are typically expected to last 15 to 20 years, the Stryker Rejuvenate recall was issued less than two years after the design was introduced.
Approximately 700 of the cases are pending in the federal court system, where cases filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country have been consolidated for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation. The cases are centralized before U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in the District of New Jersey to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
In addition to the federal litigation, another 1,000 lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey state court, which is the home state for Stryker’s Howmedica Osteonic’s parent company. The New Jersey litigation has been centralized as part of an MCL, or Multicounty Litigation, before Superior Court Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergen County.
On April 22, Judge Frank and U.S. Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel issued a pretrial order (PDF) in the MDL, which appointed several members of the plaintiffs’ leadership group to serve on a sub-committee to confer with plaintiffs’ counsel in the New Jersey state court litigation to obtain information about a mediation program being pursued at the state court level.
A group of four lawyers have been directed to “explore what, if anything, can be learned from the New Jersey court’s Early Mediation Program that may be applied usefully in this MDL.”
Shortly after the Stryker Rejuvenate litigation was centralized before Judge Martinotti in New Jersey state court, a mediation program was established to explore the possibility of settling cases early in the proceedings.
According to an update provided earlier this month, Judge Martonotti indicates that all nine cases that went through the Stryker Rejuvenate mediation process as part of a first phase have settled. In addition, at least two cases from a second phase have also resolved.
While the possibility for further Stryker Rejuvenate hip settlements are being explored, a small group of cases are being prepared for early trial dates in the MDL, which may begin in the Summer of 2015. Known as “bellwether” cases, these early trial dates are designed to help the parties gauge how juries
If the parties fail to resolve a large majority of the cases following these early trial dates, Judge Frank may begin remanding hundreds of cases back to U.S. District Courts throughout the country for individual trials.
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