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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip replacement lawsuits has agreed to expand the pool of cases from which the parties can select claims to be prepared for bellwether trials, which are expected to begin next summer.
There are currently more than 4,000 product liability lawsuits pending nationwide involving the recalled Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II implants, which were removed from the market in 2012, amid reports that the modular femoral components may be prone to fret, corrode and ultimately fail within a few years.
About half of the cases are consolidated in the federal court system, as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) that is centralized before U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in the District of Minnesota to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different federal judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, Judge Frank has directed the parties to select a small group of cases that will go through case-specific discovery in preparation for early trial dates. Known as “bellwether” cases, the outcomes of these early trials are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
In an order (PDF) issued September 19, Judge Frank agreed to expand the pool of potential bellwether cases from 500 to more than 750, allowing the parties to pick from any cases filed through July 1, 2014.
All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations, claiming that the Stryker Rejuvenate hip implant was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous, causing users to experience problems that often result in the need for risky revision surgery.
The Stryker Rejuvenate is a modular hip replacement, which was recalled from the market in July 2012.
Unlike traditional hip implants, which feature a single femoral component, the Stryker Rejuvenate contained a modular neck-stem, with two pieces that fit inside of 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.
Prior to the recall, an estimated 20,000 of the implants were sold, and it is expected that Stryker Rejuvenate problems are going to continue to cause users to suffer catastrophic failure of their hip replacements the longer the device remains in place.
By October 17, the parties have been directed to submitted an agreed upon list of “representative” bellwether cases from the available pool. If the sides are unable to agree on one list, the parties will submit separate proposed lists.
To allow the parties to continue with discovery obligations and fulfill their bellwether selections, Judge Frank has indicated that the next status conference in the MDL for November 6.
In addition to the cases pending in the Stryker Rejuvenate MDL, another 2,000 lawsuits are filed in New Jersey state court, which is where the implant manufacturer’s U.S. headquarters are located.
Similar coordinated pretrial proceedings have been established in New Jersey state court, where a series of bellwether trials are scheduled to begin in June and July 2015.
As preparations for these early trial dates continue in state and federal court, the parties are continuing attempts to reach a href=”http://www.youhavealawyer.com/blog/2014/04/28/stryker-rejuvenate-settlements/”>settle Stryker Rejuvenate lawsuits on a case-by-case basis.
A number of settlements have been reached following court ordered mediation. However, if resolutions are not reached to resolve large numbers of cases in litigation over the next year, it is expected that the bellwether cases will move forward to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their cases.