As hip replacement lawsuits continue to mount throughout the federal court system over significant issues with the Zimmer VerSys femoral head and M/L Taper with Kinectiv Technology, the manufacturer is fighting a recent request to centralize the federal hip component litigation for pretrial proceedings.
Currently, Zimmer-Biomet is facing approximately two dozen of hip component lawsuits alleging that the medical device manufacturer exercised gross negligence in designing the implants and continued aggressively marketing the components for use in metal-on-metal hip systems even as catastrophic failures, resulting in painful and debilitating complications, came to light.
Plaintiffs assert that the Zimmer M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis and Zimmer VerSys Hip femoral head are clearly defective and exceedingly dangerous when paired together. The metal-on-metal components are prone to fretting and corrosion, expelling metal debris into the bloodstream to accumulate in organs and localized tissue, resulting in heavy metal poisoning, pseudotumors, tissue death, implant component failure, and the need for additional risky surgeries.
Recent court documents indicate that more than 100,000 of these Zimmer hip replacement systems have been implanted in innocent patients throughout the U.S. As more people become aware that Zimmer knew that the hip implants were significantly dangerous but continued putting patients at risk to maximize profits, experts expect the litigation to expand by leaps and bounds.
Zimmer Hip Component MDL Request and Opposition
This past month, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to consolidate all Zimmer hip component lawsuits over the VerSys, M//L Taper and M/L Taper with Kinectiv Technology. The group asked the Judicial Panel on Multidistrcit Litigation (JPML) to transfer cases currently pending throughout the federal court system to U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in Minnesota to better serve judicial efficiency.
Given the inherent similarities regarding questions of fact and law present in all the lawsuits over the Zimmer hip components pending in at least 10 different district courts, plaintiffs assert that centralization is essential to avoid duplicative discovery and conflicting pretrial rulings that can further delay the dissemination of justice for those Zimmer has harmed.
Zimmer filed a response July 11 in opposition to consolidations, arguing that creating a formal hip component multidistrict litigation (MDL) is unnecessary.
“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.”
While Zimmer firmly opposes the motion to consolidate, the manufacturer suggests that if the JPML does establish an MDL, then the litigation should be transferred to U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker in the Southern District of Indiana.
Hip Component Litigation
In recent years, the JPML has opted to centralize similar metal-on-metal hip replacement lawsuits in separate federal MDLs, including DePuy ASR, DePuy Pinnacle, Stryker LFit V40, Stryker Rejuvenite, Biomet Magnum, Wright Conserve, and other defective systems.
Although metal-on-metal hip designs have enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years, the hip systems have been linked to extraordinarily high failure rates and painful complications that are often irreparable and necessitate revision surgery within a few years of implantation.
The JPML will likely hear oral arguments for the motions during a September 27, 2018, hearing in San Francisco, California.