Stryker Rejuvenate Settlement Reached in Another Hip Lawsuit

As a result of mediation efforts in New Jersey state court, an agreement has been reached to settle at least one more Stryker Rejuvenate hip lawsuit during the early stages of the litigation process, meaning that five out of the eight cases that have gone through the court-ordered mediation process so far have resolved.

There are currently about 1,200 product liability lawsuits filed throughout the country by individuals who experienced problems after receiving a Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II modular hip implant, which were recalled in July 2012, amid reports that the design was prone to fail within a few years.

Approximately half of the cases filed nationwide are pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, where the federal lawsuits are centralized for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation.

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About 650 of the cases are pending in New Jersey state court, which is location of the headquarters for Howmedica Osteonics Corp., the parent company for Stryker. The New Jersey litigation has also been centralized for pretrial proceedings, with all of the cases filed throughout the state consolidated before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergen County.

In an attempt to see if cases can be resolved before lengthy and expensive litigation, Judge Martinotti has established a mediation process last year in the New Jersey litigation.

As part of the first phase of this Stryker Rejuvenate mediation, a group of 10 cases were selected for early settlement negotiations.

In December 2013, the Court reported that six mediations had been completed, with agreements to settle four cases reached. One additional matter originally set for mediation was withdrawn at that time, because the plaintiff was continuing to receive medical treatment for problems with the Stryker hip, leaving three cases in the first mediation phase.

According to a new Order (PDF) issued by Judge Martinotti on January 28, two additional mediations have now been held, with one of the cases settling and discussions continuing in the other case. In addition, the parties are in the process of securing a date to discuss settlement in the third matter.

While the first phase of case mediations are being completed, Judge Martinotti is starting the process for a “Phase II”, ordering the parties to submit a list of cases that will be eligible for this second round of mediation by February 4. The Court will then announce the final selections by February 11. Those mediations will be scheduled for dates in the second half of March and April 2014.

Before the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II implants were removed from the market in July 2012, an estimated 20,000 components were sold. Therefore, as additional Stryker hips fail, it is ultimately expected that several thousand case will be brought in state and federal courts throughout the United States.

Unlike traditional hip implants, which feature a single femoral component, the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II contain a modular neck-stems, which consists 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.

Although hip replacements are expected to last 15 to 20 years, the Stryker Rejuvenate recall was issued less than two years after the design was introduced.

While details have not been released about the terms of the Stryker settlements reached in the five cases that have resolved so far, Howmedica estimated in its third-quarter earnings report last year that the total costs associated with the recall and Stryker Rejuvenate settlements may exceed $1 billion.

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