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On October 2, 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order creating the Biomet Hip MDL. The order brought together all federal lawsuits with claims concerning the Biomet M2A-Magnum and Biomet M2A-38 hip replacement devices into the Northern District of Indiana. In April 2013, the panel ordered that federal lawsuits involving the Biomet Taper also join the MDL, which now includes claims concerning all three devices.

On November 19, 2013, the Court released a copy of the memorandum from the November 18th case management conference. Topics discussed included proposed scheduling orders, appointments to the plaintiffs’ steering committee, and the next scheduled case management conference.

Most Recent Case Management Conference

An earlier order signed November 13, 2013 by District Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr. set the schedule for applications and nominations for appointment to positions of lead counsel, liaison counsel, plaintiffs’ executive council, and/or plaintiffs’ steering committee for a one-year term. Such applications had to be filed by November 25, 2013, with objections required by December 6, 2013.

In the most recent order of November 19th, the court completed the following:

• Took the proposed scheduling orders—one of which (from the plaintiffs) set a deadline for the parties to select potential bellwether cases by July 4, 2014—as well as the plaintiffs’ request for appointment of a special master and related discovery issues under advisement. (The defendants have proposed a more aggressive timeline, with a deadline of January 24, 2014 for selection of potential bellwether cases.)
• Took the defendants’ proposed scheduling order regarding statue of limitations cases under advisement.
• Approved plaintiffs’ request to submit a single application for reappointment of existing members of the steering committee, with applications for new appointments to be filed separately.
• Scheduled the next case management conference for Monday, January 6th, 2014.

Court records show over 700 Biomet lawsuits pending in Indiana. So far, it looks like the first bellwether trials will likely not occur until 2015.

Metal-on-Metal Hips Present Unique Risks

The Biomet hip implants at issue in these lawsuits are all metal-on-metal devices, which have been associated with a higher risk of inflammation, pseudotumors, immobility, premature loosening, and premature failure than combination implants. In January 2013, the FDA released a safety communication noting that these implants have unique risks in addition to the general risks of all hip implants.

“In metal-on-metal hip implants,” the FDA states on its website, “the metal ball and the metal cup slide against each other during walking or running. Metal can also be released from other parts of the implant where two implant components connect.”

Such rubbing can cause the implant to shed tiny shards of cobalt and chromium into the surrounding tissue of the joint, leading to pain, inflammation, implant loosening, and the eventual need for revision surgery. Plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against Biomet and other manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip implants claim that the companies didn’t do enough to warn patients and surgeons of the risks, and should have conducted additional safety studies before releasing allegedly dangerous products to the public.

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