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Stryker Settles Some Rejuvenate Hip Lawsuits During Mediation

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An agreement has been reached to settle at least four Stryker Rejuvante hip lawsuits as part of early mediation efforts being made to see if the manufacturer may be able to resolve cases during the early stages of the litigation.

Howmedica Osteonics Corp., which is Stryker’s parent company, currently faces about 1,000 complaints over problems with their Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants. However, the number of cases continues to grow each month, as the manufacturer just recalled the implants in July 2012, amid reports that an alarming number were failing.

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.

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. Prior to removing the hip system from the market, an estimated 20,000 were implanted.

About half of all cases currently filed nationwide are pending in New Jersey state court, where Howmedica is based. The New Jersey litigation is centralized before Judge Brian R. Martinotti for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MCL, or multi-county litigation.

As part of a mediation effort designed to help reach Stryker Rejuvenate settlements during the early stages of the litigation, a pool of 10 cases were selected for early negotiations. According to an order (PDF) issued on December 16, the first six cases from that pool were mediated over the last few weeks, with at least four of the cases settling. Negotiations on the remaining two cases failed, but the parties are expected to begin mediation efforts on the other four cases in January 2014.

Details of the Stryker settlements have not been disclosed. However, Howmedica estimated in the third-quarter earnings report that the total costs associated with the recall and Stryker Rejuvenate settlements may exceed $1 billion.

In addition to the state court litigation in New Jersey, all federal cases filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country are centralized in the District of Minnesota as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation. The parties are scheduled to meet with U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank on Thursday for a status conference in the federal litigation.

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