Status as multicounty litigation in a state court is much like multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the federal court system. Both are designed to expedite the discovery phase of the trials, which should benefit plaintiffs and defendants. The discovery phase consists of each side gathering evidence and testimony and determining what will be admissible in court. When cases are similar in claims and scope, a multicounty litigation can speed up the judicial process for product liability litigation.
Multicounty and multidistrict litigations are different from class-action lawsuits because the plaintiffs are entitled to individual trials and settlements after the consolidated discovery phase. In a class-action lawsuit, the members agree to share any judgment or monetary award.
N.J. Judge Also Overseeing DePuy CasesThe patients who have come forward and stated they were injured by Stryker hip devices are from New Jersey, Arizona, Florida and Minnesota. They are proposing that the multicounty litigation be based in Bergen County Superior Court in Hackensack, N.J., because its location is close to the defendant’s headquarters. In addition, the Honorable Brian Martinotti, who is the judge presiding over that court, has experience with similar cases involving defective metal-on-metal hip implants. He is overseeing Depuy ASR hip implant lawsuits.
At issue are Stryker’s Rejuvenate and ABG II modular-neck hip stems, which were marketed as a way for orthopaedic surgeons to give patients a better fit with their hip implants because they can be customized using various parts. The Rejuvenate hip offers surgeons six stems and 16 necks, and the ABG II has 10 necks and 16 stems that work together.
Metal-on-Metal ProblemsThe problem, however, is that the neck and stem parts have all-metal conjunctions, Stryker stated, which are to blame for complications similar to those seen in DePuy hip implant patients. Stryker patients are experiencing painful, early failure of their devices because the metal parts are grinding against each other and wearing out. Most hip implants have an average life of 15 years, but the Rejuvenate and ABG II modular-neck hip stems are failing after just months, by some reports. All-metal hip implants also have been associated with metallosis, or the poisoning of the bloodstream.
Stryker recalled the Rejuvenate and ABG II on July 6, 2012. The Rejuvenate had only been on the market since February 2009.