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DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant MDL Sent to Texas

May 25, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

Lawsuits claiming that DePuy Orthopaedic's Pinnacle hip implant is prone to early failures  have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in U.S. District Court for Northern Texas before Judge James Kinkeade (MDL 2244).   At least 57 DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits are already pending in the litigation, and more filings are likely on their way.

The DePuy Pinnacle hip implant is a metal-on-metal device.  Concerns have been growing for some time that  metal-on-metal hip implants can shed metal particles as components rub against each other. This can result in a reaction that causes tissue breakdown, bone loss, and even the formation of non-cancerous tumors. The shedding of metal shavings can cause cobalt poisoning, which can lead to long-term health problems if not treated.

The DePuy Pinnacle hip implant is very similar in design to the DePuy ASR hip replacement system, which DePuy recalled in August 2010.   Lawsuits involving the DePuy ASR hip replacement were consolidated in federal court in Ohio last year.  Those lawsuits claim that DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, allowed the ASR hip implant system to remain on the market, even though the company was aware of its problems.

The DePuy Pinnacle hip implant litigation has the potential to be even bigger than that which surrounds the ASR hip replacement.  About 150,000 Pinnacle devices have been sold since that hip implant was brought to market, compared with roughly 93,000 DePuy ASR hip implants.

Consolidation as an MDL allows  all lawsuits associated with a particular product to be coordinated under one judge for pretrial litigation to avoid duplicative discovery, inconsistent rulings and to conserve the resources of the parties, witnesses and the court. When lawsuits are consolidated as a multidistrict litigation, each retains its own identity. If the multidistrict litigation process does not resolve the cases, they are transferred back to the court where they originated for trial.

In its Transfer Order consolidating the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation said the Northern District of Texas is a geographically central location and has favorable docket conditions. Judge Kinkeade is currently presiding over one DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuit, and according to the Panel, has a current caseload conducive to handling the litigation.

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