As reported in our January 18th blog post (Recalled #Stryker LFIT V40 Anatomic CoCr Femoral Head #lawsuits may be consolidated into #MDL), plaintiffs in the Stryker hip implant failure lawsuits who allege injuries from LFIT Anatomic CoCr V40 Femoral Heads petitioned to have their federal claims consolidated in a single multidistrict litigation (MDL) in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings to “promote the just and efficient conduct of these actions.”
As alleged by the plaintiffs, each of the currently filed lawsuits present common claims arising under product liability laws and each present a common core set of facts, in that each (1) alleges exposure to the LFIT V40 Anatomic femoral head; (2) asserts injury due to failure of the product; and (3) alleges the same negligent and/or egregious conduct by Stryker. Plaintiffs further contended that Stryker knew for years that the LFIT V40 Anatomic CoCr Femoral Heads were defective and dangerous but instead chose to downplay the risk of using such device and failed to properly warn the hundreds of physicians implanting the devices into thousands of patients across the United States. Plaintiffs further claimed that the LFIT V40 Anatomic CoCr Femoral Heads head were defectively designed, manufactured and marketed by Stryker, resulting in serious and significant injuries to consumers.
In a 20-page opposition brief filed with the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on February 3, 2017, Howmedica Osteonics Corp. d/b/a Stryker opposed formation of the MDL claiming that “[p]laintiff cannot meet the heavy burden to demonstrate that transfer of a small number of individual actions involving a myriad of different products, circumstances, and injuries into an MDL is appropriate.” Further, “the request is premature—only a handful of cases are implicated in the current motion and only a fraction of those involve products subject to the August 2016 recall upon which Plaintiff relies[,]” and “because the LFIT Anatomic V40 Femoral Heads (“LFIT femoral head”) are used as part of multiple different total hip replacement systems, individual facts will predominate over common ones. Indeed, a plaintiff-specific evaluation will need to be made in each individual case regarding if and how the LFIT femoral head relates to distinct product lines, materials, sizes, recall status, and injuries.”
Though, Stryker mentioned in its opposition that the LFIT V40 Anatomic CoCr Femoral Head has a “long history of clinical success since its launch in 2001s, and continues to be implanted by surgeons today,” Stryker issued an urgent voluntary medical device recall on August 29, 2016 related to the Stryker LFIT Anatomic CoCr V40 Femoral Head commonly used with several models and brands of hip replacement products including the Stryker Accolade Hip replacement system. The Urgent Medical Device Recall Notification specifically related to LFIT V40 Femoral Heads manufactured prior to 2011. The femoral heads are used with the Stryker Accolade stem and have shown a high rate of failure causing patient injuries including loss of mobility, pain, inflammation, adverse local tissue reaction, dislocation, joint instability, broken bones around the components, leg length discrepancy, and a need for complicated and painful revision surgery.
If the JPML rules that an MDL is warranted Stryker asked that the court transfer the pending lawsuits to the District of New Jersey before the Honorable Brian R. Martinotti, or to the Southern District of New York, for coordinated and consolidated proceedings. Stryker’s argument for New Jersey venue is based on (i) where the company is principally domiciled and where most key documents and witnesses are located, and (ii) the fact that Judge Martinotti is uniquely qualified to preside over these lawsuits as he managed the very claims at issue as a Superior Court Judge for Bergen County, New Jersey.