Plaintiffs Continue to File Lawsuits in Zimmer NexGen Knee MDL
Eric ChaffinAugust 24, 2012 8:37 AM
On August 8, 2011, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all federal Zimmer NexGen knee lawsuits into one court in the Northern District of Illinois. Since then, plaintiffs who claim to have been injured by the Zimmer NexGen knee implants have joined the litigation, filing lawsuits seeking to hold Zimmer liable for failing to warn of the risks. On July 25, 2012, for instance, a California man filed a new lawsuit claiming that his Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex knee failed only nine months after implantation.
Zimmer NexGen knee implants were first released on the market in 2003. Post-marketing reports have indicated that these implants tend to loosen prematurely more often than expected.
Studies Note High Failure Rates
In 2010, reputed orthopedic surgeon and former Zimmer consultant, Richard Berger reported on observations from 108 patients. A total of 36 percent had NexGen implants that loosened prematurely. The doctor warned Zimmer of the problem, but the company responded that the issues were caused by surgical error.
A later 2012 report by the Mayo Clinic, however, confirmed Berger’s findings. Researchers found a high rate of complications with Zimmer NexGen knee implants, including premature loosening. They added that the tibial component, which is not cemented to the bone, was separating and that the lack of cement, which is typically used in joint replacement surgery, could be to blame.
Zimmer NexGen Knee Recall
Zimmer implemented a NexGen recall on two occasions. The first time was in September 2010 when they withdrew certain NexGen MIS Tibial components from the market because of their potential to loosen prematurely. This recall involved about 65,000 devices.
In December 2010, a second Zimmer NexGen knee recall pulled a pair of femoral components used in the LPS system. This recall involved only a few hundred items that were deemed a safety hazard because of manufacturing defects. The main NexGen knee implants are still available.
Products Involved in the Zimmer MDL
The products involved in the Zimmer NexGen knee Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) include the CR-Flex femoral components, the MIS Tibial components, and the LPS-Flex femoral components. The MDL has adopted a standardized master long form complaint that plaintiffs can fill out to file a lawsuit. On January 12, 2012, Tennessee resident Charles Crossnoe joined the MDL, claiming that he starting having problems with his implant after only a month. He named the MIS Tibial component as being defective.
Zimmer, Inc. filed a motion to dismiss the master complaint on February 27, 2012. According to Zimmer, the allegations are too general to meet federal pleading standards. The company has also opposed transfer of any case that involves components other than those listed above, stating that lawsuits involving other components involve too many differences to be included in the MDL.