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Eric T. Chaffin
Eric T. Chaffin
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Stryker Setting a Precedent of Settlements in Rejuvenate Lawsuits

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In the summer of 2012, Stryker issued a voluntary product recall for both the Rejuvenate and the ABG II implants, stating the metal components could rub against one another, causing fretting and corrosion that could lead to side effects like tissue damage and death, inflammation, swelling, and premature loosening.

A number of injured patients filed personal injury lawsuits following the recall, claiming Stryker failed to perform adequate safety studies on the product before releasing it on the market, as well as failing to warn about the potential serious side effects.

On January 15, 2013, the New Jersey Supreme Court consolidated all state Stryker lawsuits to Bergen County in a multicounty litigation. In December 2013, Phase 1 of the proceeding’s early mediation process got underway. At the end of the month, Stryker Corporation settled the first four cases, and in January, another settlement was reached for a confidential amount.

Case Management Order Reveals Settlements

According to a Case Management Order filed January 28, 2014, a total of five cases were resolved through mediation in Phase 1 of medication efforts in New Jersey. The parties then participated in the process of finalizing the Phase II eligible matters. They submitted a list of eligible cases to the Court on February 4, 2014, and the Court selected the next group of cases to go to mediation on February 11, 2014. They are now in the process of securing mediation dates for the second half of March and April of 2014.

At the end of January, over 600 Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip lawsuits had been filed in New Jersey. Plaintiffs claim to have experienced symptoms associated with metallosis, caused by the fretting in the Stryker modular stem components. These included pain, swelling, pseudotumors, immobility, premature loosening, and premature implant failure, requiring revision surgery.

Stryker Hip Lawsuit MDL

In July 2013, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II lawsuits into one court in the District of Minnesota. The panel believed the cases involved enough similarities of fact to warrant consolidation, to reduce court costs and improve efficiency of discovery and other procedures.

A standardized Master Complaint and Short Form Complaint were recently approved in the MDL court, allowing new plaintiffs to more easily file additional complaints there. So far, over 500 cases are pending in Minnesota. Cases have also been consolidated in Florida, in the Broward County Circuit Court.

Stryker Modular Stem Increases Risk of Metallosis

Stryker’s modular stem was originally designed to give orthopedic surgeons more options when fitting patients. As opposed to the fixed, one-piece stem used in most other hip implants, the Rejuvenate and ABG II implants had two-piece modular stems that could be mixed and matched according to a patient’s unique body shape.

Within just a year of the launch of these products, however, patients and doctors reported a higher-than-normal premature failure rate, as the two components of the stem were rubbing against one another and shedding small metal shards into the surrounding tissue. According to the Stryker Orthopedics website, the voluntary recall was initiated due to the “potential risks associated with modular-neck stems” which can lead to pain, swelling, tissue reactions, and premature hip implant failure.”