Zimmer NexGen Knee Replacement Lawsuits Consolidated in MDL

All federal lawsuits over problems with Zimmer NexGen knee replacements have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which will be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 

Following oral arguments last month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order on Monday establishing the MDL, which will result in the transfer of dozens of Zimmer NexGen knee implant lawsuits currently pending in federal district courts throughout the United States.

The panel indicated that there are currently 28 cases that will be transferred into the MDL, and there appear to be at least 45 related claims pending that may be included in the MDL as well. In addition, all future lawsuits will be transferred to the MDL as they are filed by Zimmer NexGen knee lawyers who are continuing to review claims for individuals throughout the country.

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The Zimmer NexGen knee litigation will be centralized before Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer for coordinated handling.

All of the lawsuits involve allegations that plaintiffs experienced problems following knee replacement surgery as a result of design defects with certain Zimmer NexGen components. Plaintiffs claim to have suffered catastrophic implant failures, often resulting in the need for revision surgery to remove or replace the implants because they failed far in advance of their projected lifespan. Zimmer allegedly downplayed and understated the risk of Zimmer NexGen knee problems.

Zimmer opposed consolidation of the lawsuits, arguing that it will not promote the efficient litigation of the cases, as there are at least eight different artificial knee products made by the company that are included in various lawsuits. The medical device manufacturer argued that each Zimmer NexGen knee model would have to go through its own discovery process, and that consolidated discovery would be made harder by the requirement to protect the company’s trade secrets.

In rejecting Zimmer’s arguments against consolidation, the panel stated in its ruling that it has ordered centralization in other dockets that involved multiple devices, including Medtronic and Guidant implantable defibrillator lawsuits. The panel also found Zimmer’s claims of how different the devices were to be dubious. They cited plaintiffs evidence in the ruling of similarities between the language used to describe the devices and the procedures to implant them which were used by Zimmer in seeking FDA approval to release them on the market.

Zimmer obtained approval for the NexGen knee replacement components through the FDA’s controversial 510(k) approval process, which is a fast-track to market approval that requires that you prove that the device you are releasing is “substantially equivalent” to one already on the market.

The panel pointed out that the presiding judge can easily remand any claims back to their original district if she determines that some components are dissimilar enough to cause problems with the rest of the cases.

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  • ANTONIOAugust 24, 2011 at 12:37 am

    i'm only 39 with two of these knee replacements and they seem to be more painful alot of days more than my knees hurted before i got them i got to take vicodin 750 daily to deal with it ambien to go to sleep and stool softner on the regular because the medicine clogs a person up this is crazy

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