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With a growing number of Stryker hip replacement lawsuits continuing to be filed in New Jersey over problems with the recalled LFit V40 femoral head, the state court litigation has been centralized before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
According to a Notice to the Bar (PDF) issued on May 30, the New Jersey Supreme Court has designated all cases involving Stryker LFit Cobalt Chromium V40 Femoral Heads as part of a multicounty litigation (MCL), which will be centralized before Superior Court Judge Rachelle Harz in Bergen County.
The Stryker LFit v40 is a component that has been used in combination with several different types of artificial hip systems in recent years. 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.
As individuals continue to learn that hip replacement problems may be caused by the Stryker LFit V40 femoral head, lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer in state and federal courts nationwide. However, a particularly large number of complaints have been brought in New Jersey state court, where the headquarters for Stryker’s parent corporation, Howmedica Osteonics, is located.
Each of the lawsuits raise similar allegations, claiming 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 complex product liability litigation, where a large number of claims raise similar questions of fact or law, coordination before one judge is typically established to reduce duplicative into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial orders and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and judicial system.
In an initial order for case management (PDF) issued last week, Judge Harz scheduled a first conference for June 21, at which time the court will review the status of discovery, pending motions and settlement negotiations, as well as the organizational structure of the MCL and coordination with the federal Stryker hip litigation.
Similar coordinated pretrial proceedings were established in the federal court system in April 2017, centralizing all Stryker LFit V40 hip lawsuits before U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani in Massachusetts.
Stryker previously faced centralized federal and New Jersey state court litigation over their recalled Rejuvenate and ABG II hip replacements, which were removed from the market in 2012 amid reports of failure.
Following coordinated discovery in that Stryker hip litigation, the manufacturer agreed to pay more than $1 billion in Stryker Rejuvenate 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 in both the New Jersey MCL and federal MDL, 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.