On January 23, 2012, the Honorable David A. Katz held a status conference in In re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation (“MDL No. 2197”), which is currently underway in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. In 2010, DePuy issued a worldwide hip replacement recall of its ASR hip implants after data revealed that the devices had excessively high failure rates. Amidst mounting litigation following the ASR hip recall, lawsuits filed in federal courts nationwide were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation and assigned to Judge Katz. Approximately, 3,300 lawsuits have been filed in the DePuy ASR Hip MDL, with new cases being filed each day. In addition to the federal DePuy ASR lawsuits, individuals have filed similar lawsuits in state courts throughout the country.
Discovery Moves Forward In Federal DePuy ASR LawsuitsSince the federal MDL was formed in December 2010, various orders have been issued to ensure uniform protocols and procedures. Additionally, state court judges have been encouraged to adopt similar protocols to ensure judicial efficiency and consistent rulings between the state and federal litigations.
During the most recent hearing, counsel updated Judge Katz on discovery. Specifically, items such as plaintiff fact sheets, the production of documents, and the status of depositions were addressed. To date:
- Plaintiff Fact Sheets: Close to 1,000 Plaintiff Fact Sheets have been served by the Plaintiffs.
- Document Production: 18 million pages of documents have been produced by defendants in the last 11 months. Defense counsel stated that they will continue to produce documents every 30 days.
- Depositions: Between the state and federal court actions, there have been about 100 requests for depositions of approximately 50 witnesses. Numerous depositions of company employees and others have already been taken and more are scheduled for the coming months. This next round of depositions will likely yield more substantive information regarding events leading up to the ASR hip recall.
State And Federal Coordination Of DePuy ASR LawsuitsDuring the hearing, counsel discussed the coordination of state and federal litigations. In addition to the federal hip replacement lawsuits, there are also lawsuits pending in state courts nationwide. For example, there are over 1,000 cases pending in California state court. In order to promote judicial efficiency, and avoid duplicative discovery, efforts to coordinate discovery between the federal MDL, the consolidated California state cases and the consolidated New Jersey state cases have been made. Joint hearings have been held in order to promote coordination and increase communication between the state and federal judges handling the related litigations. State court judges have been encouraged to adopt as many of the federal DePuy ASR Hip MDL orders as possible in order to expedite state court litigation. Coordination efforts have been paramount, given the magnitude of the litigation (over 900 law firms are involved in the federal MDL alone). In fact, coordinating the roles and responsibilities of lawyers taking the depositions was an important issue discussed at the recent DePuy ASR Hip MDL status conference.
The next DePuy ASR Hip MDL status conference is scheduled for March 15, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.