The New Jersey Supreme Court granted an application from plaintiffs to centralize all lawsuits against Stryker over alleged issues with its LFIT V40 femoral head devices into a single state docket.
The notice, which was published at the end of May, gives all pending and future litigation related to the hip implant components a multicounty litigation (MCL) designation.
“This Notice is to advise that the Supreme Court, after considering the application and the comments received, has determined to designate all litigation including the Stryker LFIT CoCr V40 Femoral Heads as multicounty litigation,” the court said in a notice to the bar. “The Court has assigned the MCL to Bergen County for centralized case management by Superior Court Judge Rachelle Harz.”
Harz is also overseeing multicounty litigation related to separate hip replacement components made by Stryker.
The designation comes months after plaintiffs submitted their request to consolidate all New Jersey cases, arguing that “all cases will involve recurrent legal issues of design defect, failure to warn, breach of warranty and possibly manufacturing defect.”
Stryker LFIT Anatomic Cobalt Chromium V40 femoral heads have been accused of causing failure in hip replacements due to a defect that may release metal ions into the bloodstream, putting patients at risk for further complications.
Stryker LFIT V40 Recalled in 2016
In August 2016, Stryker issued a voluntary recall of the LFIT V40 devices manufactured before 2011.
“Stryker received several complaints describing incidence of harm secondary to taper lock failure for specific lots of numerous catalog numbers of LFIT Anatomic CoCr V40 Femoral Heads,” according to the Class 2 Recall Notice.
While Stryker wanted to limit cases in the MCL to those specifically named in the recall, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided against limiting the cases. Ellen Relkin of Weitz & Luxenberg PC, which represents some of the plaintiffs in the state, told Law360 that plaintiffs were pleased with the decision.
“We believe the problem is not just due to the femoral head design, but also its intersection with the Stryker Accolade, Meridian and Citation titanium alloy femoral stems. Plaintiffs look forward to prompt production of documents in response to long standing discovery demands,” Relkin said.
JPML Established Stryker V40 MDL in April
The initial request to establish an MCL in New Jersey came just weeks after plaintiffs in federal courts requested that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) create a multidistrict litigation.
In an April 5 transfer order, the panel agreed to consolidate nearly three dozen federal lawsuits related to the Stryker device into the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
“After considering the argument of counsel, we find that the actions in this litigation involve common questions of fact, and that centralization in the District of Massachusetts will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation,” the panel wrote.
Relkin used the inevitability of the creation of an MDL as another reason to consolidate the cases in New Jersey.
“Further, since an MDL is likely to be formed by the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation, there should be one MCL that can efficiently coordinate well with the MDL since inevitably; Stryker will seek to cross-notice the depositions of their witnesses in both the MCL and the MDL,” Relkin wrote in March.
Relkin reiterated that need to Law360 after the decision was announced by the Supreme Court.
“While preliminary disclosures occurred following an informal coordination in Bergen County, it is appropriate that there be a formal MCL so there can be coordinated discovery within the NJ MCL and with the new MDL,” she said June 1.
An attorney representing Stryker and a Stryker spokeswoman declined to comment to Law360 on the outcome.