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With a growing number of hip replacement lawsuits being pursued throughout the federal court system over problems with the Zimmer VerSys femoral head and M/L Taper with Kinective Technology, a panel of federal judges has agreed to hear oral arguments next month over whether the litigation should be consolidated before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
Zimmer-Biomet, Inc. currently faces at least 22 product liability lawsuits filed in 10 different U.S. District Courts over complications involving the hip components, which are considered a metal-on-metal design.
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations that the Zimmer M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis and Zimmer VerSys Hip femoral head are defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous when paired together, with a tendency to fret and corrode, creating metal debris that gets into the patients tissue and blood, resulting in the implants failing and needing to be removed.
More than 100,000 of these Zimmer hip replacements have been implanted throughout the United States, according to recently filed court documents. As lawyers continue to investigate and review potential cases in the coming months and years, it is expected that the size of the litigation may increase rapidly over the coming weeks and months.
In June, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to centralize all Zimmer hip lawsuits over the VerSys, M/L Taper and M/L Taper with Kinective Technology, asking the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer cases filed in various different federal district courts to U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in Minnesota for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
In a response filed last month, Zimmer opposed the centralization, arguing that the creation of a formal multidistrict litigation (MDL) is unnecessary.
In a Notice of Hearing Session (PDF) issued last week, the JPML announced it will hear oral arguments on whether to centralize the Zimmer M/L taper hip lawsuits on September 27, at the Phillip Burton United States Courthouse in San Francisco, California.
The claims are the latest in a number of litigations that have emerged in recent years over recalled and defective metal-on-metal hip replacement systems, which the JPML have previously decided to centralize as part of separate a federal MDLs, including the DePuy ASR, DePuy Pinnacle, Biomet Magnum, Wright Conserve, Stryker LFit v40, Stryker Rejuvenate and other systems.
Metal-on-metal hip designs became increasingly popular in recent years, but components manufactured and sold by various manufacturers have been linked to high rates of failure and problems that often result in the need for revision surgery within a few years.
Although Zimmer opposes the motion, the manufacturer indicates that if the MDL panel does decide to consolidate the litigation, they argue it should be transferred to U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker in the Southern District of Indiana.