MDL Panel to Consider Zimmer Hip Replacement Lawsuit Centralization

A panel of federal judges will hear arguments today about whether to consolidate a growing number of Zimmer hip replacement lawsuits filed by individuals who have experienced loosening or failure with the Durom Cup hip system due to alleged defects in the design and warnings.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is scheduled to meet today in Chicago to consider whether 48 Zimmer Durom Cup lawsuits pending in 10 different federal district courts should be centralized for pretrial proceedings before one judge as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL.

The hearing was scheduled after a motion was filed in March by a group of plaintiffs who requested that the Zimmer Durom Cup hip replacement litigation be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. All of the cases involve similar allegations of injuries caused by the Durom Cup hip implant, which was temporarily recalled nearly two years ago due to a high number of reported hip replacement failures with the Zimmer implant.

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Consolidation of the Zimmer hip replacement lawsuits before one judge would eliminate duplicative discovery, avoid contradictory rulings and serve the convenience of the court, witnesses and parties, according the motion. While the pretrial management of the cases in an MDL is often similar to how a Zimmer Durom Cup class action lawsuit would be handled, each claim would still remain an individual lawsuit that would be returned back to the jurisdiction where it was originally filed for trial if it does not settle or otherwise resolve during pretrial litigation.

The Zimmer Durom Cup was first introduced in the United States in 2006, as a more advanced form of an artificial hip. The hip resurfacing system is designed out of a single piece of material and is supposed to avoid problems associated with traditional hip replacement components, such as instability, limited range of motion and wear of the bearing.

Shortly after Zimmer introduced the Durom Cup in the United States, concerns emerged about a high number of hip replacement failures involving the hip implant, where the component loosened and required revision surgery. A temporary Zimmer Durom Cup recall was issued in July 2008, so that revisions could be made to the product’s warnings and instructions to ensure that doctors were properly trained on the surgical techniques needed to implant the artificial hip correctly.

Approximately 12,000 individuals had the Zimmer Durom Cup system implanted in their hip between 2006 and 2008. While Zimmer’s own estimates suggested that some doctors have experienced failure rates as high as 5.7%, the plaintiffs claim that about 14% of those who have had the Durom Cup hip replacement implanted have required hip revision surgery.

As of the end of last year, more than 500 adverse event reports have been filed with the FDA regarding problems with the Zimmer Durom Cup and many experts anticipate that the rate of hip cup loosenings could increase as time passes after the surgery.

If the Judicial Panel decides to form an MDL for the pretrial proceedings, all pending cases would be transferred to the judge assigned to preside over the litigation. In addition, as Zimmer Durom Cup lawyers investigate and file new federal cases in the future, they will also be transferred to the MDL for coordinated handling.

In recent months, concerns have emerged about similar problems associated with a different type of implant, known as metal-on-metal hip implants. Earlier this year, DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, announced that it was removing its DePuy ASR hip replacement system from the market. While the company initially claimed the removal was due to low sales, on March 6 they sent a letter warning doctors that many patients have experienced hip failures soon after the devices were implanted.


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