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While a request is pending to centralize the growing number of hip replacement lawsuits filed nationwide over the Zimmer M/L Taper with Kinectiv and VerSys femoral head, a complaint originally filed early last year by a Pennsylvania man is set for trial to begin later this month.
Nearly two dozen product liability lawsuits have been filed against Zimmer-Biomet, Inc. in recent months over complications from the M/L Taper with Kinectiv technology when used with a Zimmer VerSys femoral head, alleging that the metal-on-metal hip design has caused implant failure, pain and blood poisoning known as metallosis.
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, which seek to centralize all lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
Last month, several plaintiffs asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to establish a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Minnesota federal court, to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial schedules and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties and the judicial system.
While the panel of federal judges is not expected to consider the motion until the fall, a complaint (PDF) originally filed in February 2017 is set for trial to begin on July 31, in the U.S. District for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The trial will involve claims brought by Marilyn Adams, who was implanted with a Zimmer M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis in January 2011. After experiencing complications, Adams required revision surgery in February 2015, to have the implant removed and replaced. At that time, the surgeon noted evidence of adverse local tissue reaction caused by debris from the Zimmer M/L Taper.
“The ML Taper Kinective hip implant design is more prone to component corrosion when implanted into a human being than hip devices manufactured by other companies,” the complaint alleges.
Zimmer has tried to prevent the trial from moving forward, filing a motion for summary judgment (PDF) on May 29, which argued that Adams waited too long to file her complaint. The motion claimed that she should learned of her injury in January 2015, and that under Pennsylvania’s two-year statute of limitation, she should have filed her claim by January 2017.
Zimmer then filed a motion for bifurcation (PDF) on June 22, asking that the case be tried in two phases, with one dealing with the statute of limitations issue before the issues of liability and damages. Zimmer has asked for two separate trials involving two separate juries to resolve the issues in case the court does not rule in favor of its motion for summary judgment.
The lawsuits over Zimmer M/L Taper Hip with Kinectiv And VerSys components joins number of similar litigations that have emerged in recent years over other metal-on-metal hip replacement systems, which the JPML has previously agreed to centralize as part of a federal MDL, 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.
The U.S. JPML will likely schedule oral arguments for the motion to consolidate the cases during a hearing set for September 27, 2018, in San Francisco, California.