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Plaintiff Asks that DePuy Pinnacle Hip Implant Lawsuits be Consolidated

Apr 27, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

A DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuit plaintiff is asking that all similar federal complaints be consolidated in a multidistrict litigation.  The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has scheduled a hearing for May 16 to hear arguments on the potential DePuy Pinnacle hip implant consolidation.

The Pinnacle device is, like the DePuy Orthopaedics ASR hip replacement, a metal-on-metal hip implant.   Both hip implants have been the subject of adverse event reports to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regarding early failures and revision surgeries, but so far, DePuy has only seen fit to recall the ASR hip implant.  In fact, since the ASR recall was announced, more than 1,300 people have filed an adverse event report with the FDA involving problems with a DePuy Pinnacle hip.

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. 

The motion to consolidate DePuy Pinnacle hip implant lawsuits was filed by Plaintiff Catherine Falvey, whose case is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  The motion argues that current and future  lawsuits involving the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant should be consolidated because they are all predicated on common issues of fact. Such a consolidation allows 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.

Concerns have been growing for some time that metal-on-metal devices like the DePuy Pinnacle and ASR hip implants may shed small metal particles as its components rub against each other. This can cause tissue breakdown, bone loss, and even the formation of non-cancerous tumors. The shedding of metal shavings can cause cobalt poisoning, a disorder that, if left untreated, can put patients at risk of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo, deafness, blindness, optic nerve atrophy, convulsions, headaches, peripheral neuropathy, cardiomyopathy, and hypothyroidism.

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