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On June 19, 2018, plaintiffs filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate all federally-filed lawsuits concerning the Zimmer M/L Taper with Kinectiv Technology and VerSys femoral head hip replacement products. Plaintiffs claim that the components are defectively designed and/or manufactured, and promote fretting and corrosion at the junction between the femoral stem and the femoral head, resulting in personal injury and the need for risky revision surgery.

On July 11, 2018, Zimmer filed their opposition to the transfer, stating that there is no “watershed event” that warrants grouping all the cases together in an MDL, and that the products have not been recalled because of issues related to metal reactions. Instead, the defendants argue that “over their long clinical and commercial history, these products have demonstrated exceedingly low rates of metal reactions.”

Plaintiffs Seek Consolidation in Minnesota

In their motion to transfer, the plaintiffs stated that there were, at the time of the motion, 22 actions involving these products pending in 10 different jurisdictions across the country. All of the cases are based upon similar facts, and since more than 100,000 of these components have been implanted in patients, the plaintiffs assert that it’s “inevitable that many more cases involving these components will be filed in federal courts in the coming months.”

The plaintiffs add that the JPML has consolidated other cases arising out of defective hip implant systems, including the Zimmer Durom Cup. Consolidation would “promote judicial efficiency and ensure that these cases benefit from the cost savings accomplished by coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.”

All plaintiffs also allege that the defendants knew or should have known of the defective nature of these implants, “yet failed to properly warn doctors and patients and failed to timely remove the products from the market.” They suggest the District of Minnesota as the location for the proposed MDL.

Zimmer Opposes Kinectiv MDL

Manufacturer Zimmer argues that consolidation is not necessary or warranted, for several reasons, including the following:

  • The products were developed at different times by different design teams, so discovery will involve different documents and different company and third-party witnesses.
  • The products were not recalled because of corrosion issues—indeed, the products have low rates of metal reactions.
  • The lawsuits pending are small in number, and there is no reason to believe they will increase.
  • Zimmer is already working with the representing law firms with regard to discovery.

“MDL treatment is neither needed nor justified,” Zimmer states. “It will not increase the convenience of the parties or the witnesses, or further the just and efficient conduct of this litigation, any more than the parties’ present coordination efforts.”

Should the panel disagree and move forward with consolidation, Zimmer requested the Southern District of Louisiana as the site for the MDL.

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