The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has ordered that all personal injury lawsuits involving Zimmer NexGen knee implant components currently pending in federal courts throughout the U.S. be consolidated in a multidistrict litigation and transferred to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The litigation, dubbed IN RE: ZIMMER NEXGEN KNEE IMPLANT PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION (MDL No. 2272), will be presided over by Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer.
As weâ€™ve reported previously, the knee replacement components involved in this litigation include the Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex femoral components, Zimmer NexGen MIS Tibial components or Zimmer NexGen LPS-Flex femoral components. The original motion to consolidate the Zimmer NexGen lawsuits encompassed 28 cases filed in 13 federal districts. Since then, more than 45 other such lawsuits have been filed.
According to the JMPL’s Transfer Order dated August 8, the original 28 lawsuits involve common questions of fact. They allege that the Zimmer CR-Flex, LPS-Flex and/or MIS Tibial components are prone to premature loosening, causing affected individuals pain and loss of movement, and often forcing them to undergo revision surgery. The actions also raise factual issues as to whether the Zimmer high-flex components (CR-Flex and LPS-Flex) actually provide an individual with any increase in flexion.
In opposing the MDL consolidation, Zimmer had argued that the involved NexGen components are â€œquite distinct, and thus discovery would not significantly overlap among the actions.â€™ However, the JPML did not find the device maker’s arguments persuasive, stating its review of the record indicated that the distinctiveness of the various components is not as clear-cut as Zimmer contends. “Plaintiffs reference, for example, certain 510(k) submissions that appear to reflect significant similarities among the subject femoral components, a surgical techniques brochure containing largely identical language describing the designs of the LPS-Flex and CR-Flex femoral components, and a Zimmer marketing pamphlet covering both the CR-Flex Gender Solutions and LPS-Flex Gender Solutions components,” the Transfer Order states.
The panel chose the Northern District of Illinois for the MDL venue because 10 of the 28 constituent actions are pending in that district, and the district is relatively close to Zimmerâ€™s Indiana headquarters.
An MDL 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.