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A group of attorneys have been appointed to serve in various leadership positions in the federal Stryker Rejuvenate hip lawsuits, which have been consolidated in the federal court system for coordinated management during pretrial litigation.
In June, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized all product liability lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system involving the recalled Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II modular femoral hip component, which was removed from the market in last year amid reports that suggested the implant may fret, corrode and fail within a few years.
All complaints filed filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide are centralized before U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in the District of Minnesota to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues that will arise in a large number of cases, to avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, the witnesses and the courts.
On November 5, Judge Frank issued an order (PDF) appointing more than two dozen Stryker rejuvenate attorneys representing plaintiffs in the litigation to serve in leadership roles, including a Lead Counsel Committee consisting of five members and one committee chairperson. In addition, two lawyers were appointed to serve as Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel and the remaining appointments were to a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.
Howmedica Osteonics Corp., the parent company of Stryker, previously opposed a proposal that called for a “multi-headed leadership structure”, maintaining that it would create confusion and duplication.
Stryker Rejuvenate Hip Recall Lawsuits
Howmedica faces more than 340 Styrker hip lawsuits centralized before Judge Frank. All of the claims involve similar allegations that the company designed and sold defective hip replacement systems, which were recalled only a few years after being introduced.
As Stryker hip replacement lawyers continue to review and file additional lawsuits involving the Rejuvenate or ABG II components, estimates have suggested that thousands of cases may ultimately be centralized in the MDL.
More than 20,000 of the implants were sold in the United States before the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip recall was issued in July 2012.
Unlike traditional hip implants, which feature a single femoral component, the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II are modular neck-stems, consist 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. This can cause the implants to corrode or fret at the modular junction, increasing the risk of inflammation and loosening of the hip implant.
As the litigation moves forward, it is expected that a small group of lawsuits will be prepared for early trial dates, known as “bellwether” cases. The preparation of these claims and the outcomes of any trials are designed to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to similar evidence and testimony that will be presented throughout the litigation, potentially facilitating further settlement negotiations between the parties.