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Zimmer Opposes MDL for Hip Component Lawsuits

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Although a growing number of hip replacement lawsuits continue to be filed throughout the federal court system over problems with the Zimmer VerSys femoral head and M/L Taper with Kinective Technology, the manufacturer indicates that it opposes a recent request to centralize and consolidate the litigation before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Zimmer-Biomet, Inc. currently faces about two dozen product liability lawsuits filed in recent months 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.

Last month, 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.

Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the lawsuits over Zimmer hip components, which are currently pending in at least 10 different U.S. District Courts, plaintiffs indicate that centralized management is necessary to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial schedules and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

In a response (PDF) filed on July 11, Zimmer-Biomet indicates that it opposes centralization, maintaining that the creation of a formal MDL is unwarranted.

“Just 20 federal lawsuits properly within the scope of Plaintiffs’ proposed MDL have been identified for transfer,” the motion states. “Plaintiffs provide no reason to suggest that the pace of filings will increase.”

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.

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.

The U.S. JPML will likely schedule oral arguments for the motion to be presented during a hearing set for September 27, 2018, in San Francisco, California.

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