The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) created the new MDL No. 2768 to hear products liability litigation involving the Stryker-branded LFIT Anatomic CoCR V40 femoral heads, a prosthetic hip replacement device.
US District Judge Indira Talwani in Boston will oversee a total of 33 cases from 17 district courts, with at least eight groups competing plaintiffs’ counsel involved, in In re: Stryker LFIT V40 Femoral Head Products Liability Litigation. Defendant HowmedicaOsteonics Corp. of Mahwah, NJ, unsuccessfully opposed centralization and wanted the cases heard in New Jersey or New York federal court.
All the lawsuits involve common factual questions about alleged defects in Howmedica’s Stryker-branded LFIT Anatomic CoCr V40 femoral heads. The federal MDL motion was filed Jan. 13 by attorney Walter Kelley of Kelley Bernheim & Dolinsky LLC in Plymouth, MA.
42,519 defective hips
Howmedica recalled 42,519 of the defective hips on August 29, 2016. The company also issued a letter to orthopedic surgeons advising them of a “higher than expected” incidence of taper lock failure for certain sizes of its LFIT Anatomic CoCr V40 Femoral Heads.
Potential hazards listed in the recall notice included excessive metal debris, disassociation of the head from the stem/failure, trunnion fracture, and corrosion at the femoral head and stem junction.
Simultaneously, the Canadian public health agency issued a recall about the Stryker LFIT V40 and the Australian Government Department of Health published a Hazard Alert about the same devices.
The plaintiffs’ claims focus on the performance of the LFIT V40 cobalt-chromium device, in particular the alleged propensity of the device to cause corrosion at the taper junction when paired with femoral stems made from different alloys (such as Howmedica’s proprietary TMZF, which is an alloy of titanium, molybdenum, zirconium and iron). This corrosion allegedly leads to failure of the implant or other serious health consequences and necessitates surgery to remove and replace the implants.
In addition to the specific causes of the failure of each plaintiff’s device, the cases have common issues about the development, manufacture, testing, regulatory history, promotion, and labeling of the LFIT V40 cobalt-chromium femoral head. “We note, though, that the transferee judge might find it useful, for example, to establish different tracks for the different femoral stems that can be mated with the LFIT device,” the JPMDL said.
New Jersey plaintiffs
A different group of 25 plaintiffs is requesting that the New Jersey state courts create a multi-county litigation docket for the same device.
The New Jersey motion was filed Jan. 26 by attorney Ellen Relkin of Weitz & Luxenberg in New York. She estimates that more than 85 cases over the LFIT V40 Hip have been filed before Judge Rachelle Harz in Bergen County, NJ.
Separately, Stryker is the target 1,800 lawsuits in MDL 2441, supervised by US District Judge Donovan W. Frank in Stryker Rejuvenate in ABG II Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation and in Stryker Trident Hip Implants New Jersey State Court.