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As hundreds of Stryker Rejuvenate hip lawsuits continue to move forward in New Jersey state court, mediation efforts are set to begin in an attempt to reach a settlement.
More than 430 product liability lawsuits involving the recalled Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip stems are currently centralized in the Superior Court for Bergen County, New Jersey before Judge Brian R. Martinotti, with about 25% of those cases being filed within the past three months.
According to a case management order (PDF) issued by Judge Martinotti on October 23, the parties have selected a small number of cases to move forward with Phase I mediation, which is to take place no later than December 15. A total of 10 cases will be negotiated during these initial mediation efforts, including six cases randomly selected by the Court, two cases selected by plaintiffs and two cases selected by defendants.
A second phase of mediation is expected to discuss Stryker Rejuvenate settlements for all cases filed and served after April 2, 2013, but prior to July 26, 2013 in which the plaintiff has opted to be included in the process and provided a required Preliminary Disclosure Fact Sheet.
Judge Martinotti has ordered the parties to meet and confer by November 16 to devise a method for mediating cases filed prior to April 2, 2013, which were not selected as part of the Phase I group.
If mediation fails, it is likely that a small number of cases will be selected to serve as test cases, known as “bellwether” trials. Such early trial dates are designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their cases and may facilitate further attempts to settle Stryker Rejuvenate cases to avoid hundreds of individual trials.
Federal Stryker Rejuvenate Litigation
In addition to the New Jersey state court litigation, nearly 350 complaints are filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country. These cases have been centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation, before U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in the District of Minnesota.
More than 20,000 Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II hip stems were sold in the United States before a recall was issued in July 2012, so it is ultimately expected that thousands of cases may be brought as individuals experience early failure of their Stryker hip stem, which often results in the need for removal surgery.
Unlike traditional hip implants, which feature a single femoral component, the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II are modular hipstems, 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.
Although hip implants are typically expected to last 15 to 20 years, a Stryker Rejuvenate hip stem recall was issued only two years after the design was introduced. At the time the artificial hip system was removed from the market, the manufacturer acknowledged that the design was prone to fret and corrode at the modular stem, increasing the risk of problems within a few years after hip replacement surgery.
All of the product liability complaints pending throughout the country involve similar allegations that Howmedica and their Stryker subsidiaries designed and sold a defective and unreasonably dangerous hip system. Plaintiffs claim that inadequate warnings and information was provided to consumers or the medical community about the risk of problems with Stryker Rejuvenate hip replacements.