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The first meeting with the federal judge presiding over all centralized Stryker Rejuvenate hip lawsuits will be held next month, at which time the structure and organization for the consolidated federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) will be discussed.
According to a Pretrial Order (PDF) issued on July 5, U.S. District Judge Donovan W. Frank indicates that a Status Conference will be set for a date in August 2013, although the exact date and time have not yet been provided by the Court.
In June, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that all product liability lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system involving problems with Stryker Rejuvenate or Stryker ABG II modular implants will be transferred to Judge Frank for coordinated handling during pretrial proceedings.
At the time the Stryker Rejuvenate MDL was established, there were about 41 complaints filed in 16 different U.S. District Courts, but lawyers expect that hundreds, if not thousands, of Stryker hip lawsuits are likely to be filed in the coming months.
Centralizing the cases before one judge is designed 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.
According to Judge Frank’s order, an interim lead counsel and liaison counsel were appointed for plaintiffs who have brought cases. However, it is expected that a larger group of attorneys will be appointed to leadership roles following the status conference. These lawyers would take certain actions that benefit all plaintiffs who have brought a Stryker Rejuvenate case in the MDL during the discovery phase and pretrial proceedings, including any “bellwether” cases that may be scheduled to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to evidence and testimony that could be repeated throughout a large number of cases.
Stryker Rejuvenate Recall
A recall was issued for the Stryker Rejuvenate and Stryker ABG II hip replacements in July 2012, after reports suggested that a higher-than-expected number of modular components were failing within a few years after they were implanted. Although artificial hips are expected to last 15 to 20 years, these components were removed from the market only a few years after they were introduced.
Unlike traditional hip implants, which feature a single femoral component, the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II are modular neck-stems, featuring 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.
All of the complaints included in the MDL involve allegations that Howmedica and their Stryker subsidiaries designed and sold a defective and unreasonably dangerous system. Complaints also allege that the manufacturer failed to warn patients or the medical community about the potential risk of problems with Stryker Rejuvenate hip replacements.
Prior to removing the devices from the market, more than 20,000 Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hips were sold nationwide. Over the coming months, the size of the Stryker Rejuvenate litigation is expected to increase dramatically as individuals throughout the country continue to experience Stryker Rejuvenate hip failures, which often result in the need for revision surgery.
As product liability lawyers continue to review and file Stryker Rejuvenate cases in U.S. District Courts throughout the country, they will be transferred to Judge Frank for coordinated handling and pretrial proceedings.
In addition to claims pending in the federal MDL, at least 161 lawsuits were consolidated in New Jersey state courts earlier this year, where the cases have been centralized before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergen County.