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JPML Centralizes Stryker LFIT Litigation in Massachusetts

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In January of this year, plaintiffs filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to transfer all federally filed Stryker LFIT V40 femoral head lawsuits to one court. They argued that centralization of cases would help conserve judicial resources, avoid duplicative and conflicting rulings, and serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses involved.

On April 5, 2017, the JPML issued an order of transfer, creating the Stryker Orhthopaedics LFIT V40 femoral head MDL. They centralized all federally filed Stryker LFIT V40 lawsuits in the District of Massachusetts, under the guidance of U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani.

Stryker LFIT V40 Taper Lock Failure

Howmedica issued an urgent medical device notification last August, recalling certain sizes of LFIT V40 Femoral Heads that were manufactured prior to 2011. The company stated that it had received several complaints of taper lock failure for certain lots of the product.

The plaintiffs’ motion to consolidate stated that the actions pending in various federal districts involved common questions of fact, mainly that the femoral heads failed when implanted, causing similar injuries to patients that resulted in risky revision surgery.

Not all plaintiffs suffered the exact same injuries, but they were all caused by the same device and had to be repaired in a second surgery. Some patients, for example, suffered dislocation of the head from the stem, but others suffered from metallosis caused by corrosion. The device is made of metal materials and during normal wear and tear, can rub against other metal materials in the implant. This, in turn, can shed metal shards into the joint and surrounding tissues and can cause the formation of pseudotumors, swelling, pain and difficulty walking.

Plaintiffs also claim that the manufacturer was aware of the problems with the device but failed to warn doctors and patients in a timely manner. All plaintiffs have brought similar claims in their lawsuits, including negligence, breach of warranties, failure to warn and defective design.

The other potential location for the Stryker LFIT V40 centralization was the District of Minnesota, where some plaintiffs already had cases pending. Howmedica Osteonics Corp. opposed centralization altogether, stating that there are only a few actions, and that centralization would prove inefficient given the wide variety of implant procedures in which the LFIT V40 may be used. If the centralization was approved, however, they suggested the cases be transferred to the District of New Jersey or the Southern District of New York.

In the transfer order, the JPML stated they were “not persuaded” by the defendants’ arguments against centralization, and stated that there already are a significant number of pending cases, including 33 pending in 17 different districts. They found that the District of Massachusetts would best serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses.