May 4, 2017
The United States Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has agreed to consolidate lawsuits concerning the Stryker LFIT V40 femoral heads. The Stryker lawsuits, which allege the company’s prosthetic hip replacement implant was defective, will be consolidated in the District of Massachusetts.
Stryker Hips Lawsuits Allege Patients Harmed by Defective Device
The Stryker LFIT V40 femoral heads (Low Friction Ion Treatment) are among the components implanted into a patient’s hip during hip replacement surgery. They are used in the Stryker Accolade TMZF, the Accolade 2, and the Citation and Meridian stems. Of concern is a risk of taper lock (the section of the hip implant that joins the femoral neck to the femoral head) failure and risk of metallosis, which can occur when metal debris comes loose from the hip implant and is absorbed into the surrounding tissue. Patients who experience such complications may suffer severe pain and limited mobility and may require surgery to remove and replace the faulty hip device.
JPML Approves Motion for Multidistrict Litigation
After the plaintiffs filed their motion for multidistrict litigation, the JPML heard arguments for and against consolidation. According to the transfer order (MDL No. 2768, In Re: Stryker Orthopaedics LFIT V40 Femoral Head Products Liability Litigation), the motion for multidistrict litigation involves six lawsuits and 27 potentially related lawsuits.
The JPML found that there were similar enough factual questions in each of the filed Stryker lawsuits to support centralizing pretrial proceedings. Each Stryker lawsuit in the multidistrict litigation involves concerns about the LFIT femoral heads and how the device was manufactured, marketed, and labeled. Furthermore, previous hip implant lawsuits—such as those involving the Stryker Rejuvenate—have also been centralized.
“On August 29, 2016, Stryker issued a voluntary recall of certain lots of the device manufactured before March 2011, due to harm secondary to failure of the femoral head to fully lock onto the stem at the stem-head taper junction, i.e., ‘taper lock failure’,” the panel wrote in its decision, citing the cobalt-chromium device as the focus of the plaintiffs’ arguments. Claims made by the plaintiffs include concerns that corrosion at the taper junction can cause the implant to fail, which can result in serious injuries to patients and may require revision surgery to remove the failed device.
Centralization of the lawsuits is not a comment on their merit but is an acknowledgment that each Stryker lawsuit has similar enough questions of fact that pretrial proceedings could be handled more efficiently if the lawsuits were grouped together.
Defendants Argued Against Centralization
The defendants in the LFIT lawsuits argued against centralization, claiming there were too few lawsuits to make consolidation worthwhile, and that because there are a wide variety of hip implant combinations (based on different stem types and lengths) that the questions of fact would be too different to be handled as a group.
The panel, however, was not persuaded, noting that there are already 33 cases pending in 17 districts.
“Without a doubt, there will be some individualized factual issues in each action, but these issues do not at this early stage of litigation negate the efficiencies to be gained by centralization,” the panel wrote. The issue is not whether the type and length of the stem caused different individual injuries, but whether the failures were all brought on by similar causes, and whether issues in the development, manufacture, testing, and labeling of the LFIT V40 are common to each of the plaintiffs.
Panel Refuses to Limit Scope of Stryker Lawsuit MDL
The defendant also argued that the name of the MDL should be changed to HOC LFIT V40 Taper Lock Litigation, replacing Stryker Orthopaedics with HOC (for Howmedica Osteonics Corp.). The panel agreed to eliminate the word Orthopaedics from the title but declined to change the name to HOC, finding that the device was marketed to physicians under Stryker’s brand name. The panel also refused to add “taper lock” to the litigation caption, finding it would limit the scope of the MDL too narrowly. They further ruled that claims regarding LFIT V40 devices that haven’t been recalled should also be included in the MDL.
Stryker Lawsuit Attorney
If you or someone you love has been harmed by a Stryker LFIT V40 implant, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the maker of the device. Contact us to discuss your legal options.