Stryker Orthopedics Opposing Motion to Consolidate Hip Implant Lawsuits

Plaintiffs suing Howmedica Osteonics Corp over claims that its Stryker LFIT V40 femoral head devices have a higher-than-expected failure rate are awaiting decisions on two petitions seeking consolidation of those cases for judicial efficiency.

In January plaintiffs filed a motion to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all federal lawsuits related to the Stryker devices into the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, arguing that the transfer and consolidation of pretrial proceedings will “promote the just and efficient conduct of these actions.”

Since the January 13 petition, Howmedica — referred to as Stryker Orthopaedics by the plaintiffs — has submitted its opposition to the motion.

“HOC strenuously objects to Plaintiff’s request to transfer,” the defendant said in opposition. “Plaintiff cannot meet the heavy burden to demonstrate that transfer of a small number of individual actions involving a myriad of different products, circumstances, and injuries into an MDL is appropriate.”

Plaintiffs claim that Stryker LFIT V40 femoral head is used with a variety of femoral hip stems but that the failure is similar in all the instances. Howmedica argues this as an argument against consolidation.

“As Plaintiff’s own admissions highlight, the extraordinarily fact-intensive differences between the actual devices, the combination of devices and components, the failure mechanisms, and disparate injuries alleged in these cases are simply too great for transfer and consolidation to be appropriate,” it said.

The panel was set to hear oral arguments related to the request on March 30.

Other Plaintiffs Seek Consolidation Within New Jersey

In a separate request, plaintiffs pursuing lawsuits against Howmedica in New Jersey have requested consolidation in a multicounty litigation in Bergen County Superior Court.

In a February 6 notice to the bar, Acting Administrative Director of the Courts Glenn A. Grant acknowledged receipt of the consolidation request and allowed anyone to comment on or object to the application through March 6.

More than 80 cases are pending across the state of New Jersey and plaintiffs argue that “all cases will involve recurrent legal issues of design defect, failure to warn, breach of warranty and possibly manufacturing defect.”

In a letter sent to Director Grant, plaintiff attorney Ellen Relkin said that users of the device were put at risk of necrosis of tissue and bone cells caused by metal particles being released into the surrounding bone and tissue.

Stryker Lawsuits Accumulating

The number of cases against Howmedica over Stryker LFIT 40 femoral heads continues to increase. Just last month, a woman in Massachusetts filed a lawsuit after suffering injuries from a hip implant with the Stryker component.

According to a complaint filed in the District of Massachusetts February 22, Linda Reagan was implanted with the device in July 2007. She began experiencing discomfort in the area of the implant and a diagnostic workup revealed the presence of increased levels of metal ions in her blood.

The finding led to revision surgery in which the surgeon discovered that there was soft tissue damage as a result of significant metallosis. Reagan has since endured extensive rehabilitation.

The lawsuit alleges that she was unaware that the hip implant she received was defective.

“The reason for this is that Defendants’ fraudulently concealed relevant facts from plaintiff and the medical community about the true risks of harm associated with its V40/Accolade Stem combinations and fraudulently advised the medical community that instances of corrosion were no non-existent and/or extremely rare,” the lawsuit states.

Reagan is suing for negligence and breach of warranty.