Friday, August 31, 2012

Judge Sets Date for First DePuy Pinnacle Bellwether Trial

The Legal Examiner

On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated all federal DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The panel assigned Judge James E. Kinkeade to manage the proceedings.

In a recent case management order, Judge Kinkeade scheduled the first bellwether trial for September 14, 2014. As the first case to go to trial, it will help both parties judge how the rest of the litigation may proceed.

Plaintiffs Claim DePuy Pinnacle Complications

Plaintiffs involved in the DePuy Pinnacle Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) seek to hold DePuy Orthopaedics liable for injuries they suffered after being implanted with the Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implant. Though the device was designed to offer a more durable option to metal-on-ceramic or metal-on-plastic implants, post-marketing studies and reports indicate that the device causes serious problems. Plaintiffs in the MDL allege pain, immobility, and metal contamination that leads to premature loosening and the need for additional surgery.

A similar DePuy hip implant, the DePuy ASR, was pulled from the market in August 2010. The Pinnacle metal-on-metal device remains on the market today.

Case Management Order Sets Discovery Deadlines

The DePuy Pinnacle MDL currently has over 1,800 cases pending. Judge Kinkeade set several pre-trial deadlines to ensure steady progress toward the first bellwether trial in September 2014, .

For example, the judge stated that plaintiff fact sheets should be completed by December 17, 2012, and that the defendants shall affirm that they have produced all relevant documents concerning discovery requests by December 31, 2012.

Depositions will begin in January 2013. The parties have also been told to file their recommended selection of 4-6 cases to be included in the initial bellwether trial process by September 2, 2013. Expert and fact discovery in the first bellwether trial is to be completed by May 27, 2014.

Bellwether Trial Later Than DePuy Wanted

These deadlines create significantly more time than DePuy’s proposed deadlines, which they submitted to the court on July 24, 2012. DePuy suggested that depositions and designations for the first bellwether trial should be completed between May and August of 2013, and that the first bellwether trial take place on December 2, 2013. Judge Kinkeade shot down DePuy’s proposal.

Meanwhile, concern over metal-on-metal hip implants like the DePuy Pinnacle continues. A recent study published in Orthopedics found that when metal-on-metal implants fail, they typically do so in the first two years. Failure of the implant can cause loosening, infection, and metal sensitive reactions. In June 2012, an FDA panel concluded that there were few, if any, cases where they would recommend implanting metal-on-metal devices.

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