Nearly 1,500 lawsuits have been filed across the country over the Stryker Rejuvenate, a recalled metal-on-metal hip replacement system. More than half of the cases have been filed into a multi-county litigation (MCL) in the Bergen County court under the Honorable Brian Martinotti. Recently, this litigation has progressed, with eight cases being settled as part of a mediation process.
Judge Martinotti originally called for the mediation process to have 10 cases, although one was delayed. Out of the remaining nine, eight have been settled. Ten more cases are expected to be added to the process following this successful resolution.
Unlike a class action lawsuit, where numerous plaintiffs make the same claims against a party, in an MCL everyone’s case gets looked at on an individual basis. These cases are all reviewed by the same judge and follow a shared discovery process.
Outside of the New Jersey litigation, nearly 600 Rejuvenate lawsuits have been consolidated in federal court as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before the Honorable Donovan Frank in the District of Minnesota. A mediation process may also take place for these lawsuits as well, depending on whether or not more cases are settled in the second round of mediation in New Jersey. If a mediation process does not take place, cases will likely be selected for bellwether trials in order to help determine how the rest of the litigation will play out.
The Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants were recalled in July 2012. Stryker issued the recall because some patients were experiencing complications and early implant failure due to metal corrosion. With all-metal hip implants, metal particles can be released into the bloodstream when the surfaces of the device rub or grind together. This can lead to pain, inflammation, infection, damage to muscle, bone and nerves, squeaking and popping sounds and impaired mobility. These complications may ultimately lead to early failure, forcing the patient to undergo a second surgery, known as a revision surgery, to replace the implant in as little as two years. A hip replacement is typically expected to last 15 to 20 years. Since the recall, thousands of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of patients who were implanted with the all-metal devices.
Metal-on-metal hip implants have become notorious for early failure and metallosis caused by their allegedly flawed design. The issue truly came to light after Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy unit globally recalled its ASR metal hip systems in 2010. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that metal-on-metal hip implants have additional risks compared to traditional metal-on-plastic implants, and advised measures such as imaging, metal ion testing and physical follow-ups for these patients.