Dozens of Stryker hip implant lawsuits are consolidated in a Massachusetts federal court. In their claims, plaintiffs from across the nation say the LFIT V40 hip device is defective and dangerous.
Some patients have been forced to undergo revision procedures after a Stryker-made implant fractured or came loose inside the body. Our experienced attorneys believe hundreds of other patients may be eligible to pursue compensation.
Victims of early hip replacement failure are filing lawsuits against a number of prominent medical device manufacturers, including Stryker and Depuy Synthes, over allegedly defective implant components that may put users at risk of serious injury.
Learn more from our attorneys about the Stryker hip recall class action.
One of the more recent lawsuits involves Stryker’s LFIT V40 Femoral Head, a component used in many hip replacement procedures. Made from an alloy of two metals, cobalt and chromium, the device can come apart inside the body, leaving patients in line for yet another invasive procedure.
In August 2016, Stryker issued a Class II recall for models of the component manufactured before March 2011, warning doctors around the world that its LFIT V40 Femoral Head had been implicated in a high rate of severe injury cases. While implant failure is likely the most serious complication named in the new lawsuits, patients also blame the device for a host of other side effects, including metallosis, a buildup of potentially-toxic metal particles in the immediate area around the implant.
To date, over 30 Stryker hip replacement claims have been consolidated in the US District Court for Massachusetts. Why? Because all of the lawsuits share “common questions of fact,” according to the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation, a panel of federal judges who can transfer similar lawsuits to a single court.
In Boston, the plaintiffs will pursue answers to those common questions of fact together. And any new lawsuits, at least ones filed in federal court, will likely be transferred to Massachusetts as well.
While hip replacement complications can directly cause pain, loss of mobility, internal damage and other debilitating side effects, premature implant failures have also resulted in the need for thousands of premature hip revision surgeries, which are often riskier and more invasive than the initial implantation surgery for artificial hips.
This has happened before. Many large litigations involving hip replacement devices have been consolidated in the past. Some included Stryker as a defendant. And many of these past litigations ended in large settlement agreements. Stryker ended two mass torts, which involved the company’s Rejuvenate and ABG II hip systems, with settlements.
That’s one major effect of Multi-District Litigation. It encourages settlements. Instead of having their defense attorneys scattered in federal courts across the country, Stryker will be able to focus its effects in a single jurisdiction, the US District Court of Massachusetts. Not only will the company save money on legal costs, it can also gauge the scope and direction of the litigation more easily.
When faced with a lawsuit, a defendant may choose to try and resolve the matter privately with the plaintiff(s) rather than going to trial, by offering a sum of money and / or some other form of compensation in exchange for withdrawing the legal claim.
Awarding settlements to injured consumers can prove expensive, especially in cases where plaintiffs have suffered considerable harm and loss, but manufacturers hit with product liability suits often have much more at stake than their financial resources. When public image is taken into account, settling can be seen to benefit both sides significantly:
Settlement negotiations can be initiated at any time during the litigation process, whether it’s right after a lawsuit is first filed or while a trial is already in progress. Parties can even choose to settle after a verdict has been reached.
Often, defendants will start considering settlements if they believe they can’t win in court. Settlement is often the cheaper option, when the alternative is a long series of costly jury verdicts. But how can they gauge what will happen at court?
Typically, after pre-trial proceedings in an MDL are done, a few cases will be selected to go to trial first. These “bellwether” trials can give plaintiffs and defendants a good idea of how the rest of the cases will proceed. If the bellwether trials end up being judged in favor of the plaintiffs, then the defendants may decide it will be much better for them to attempt to settle rather than to risk losing a string of trials.
Elsewhere, this “bellwether” process is already underway. In Texas, nearly 9,000 hip implant lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have been consolidated to make claims involving the company’s Pinnacle metal-on-metal artificial hip more efficient. At least three of these lawsuits have now gone to trial, resulting in two major plaintiff verdicts. In one case, a group of five plaintiffs were awarded $502 million after jurors agreed that Johnson & Johnson had hid the Pinnacle hip’s defects from patients.
More recently, a group of six patients won over $1 billion in damages over similar allegations. Though both of these verdicts were ultimately trimmed in size by Texas federal judges, they remain enormous. Yet Johnson & Johnson continues to fight on, without any indication that the company intends to settle any of the thousands of other Pinnacle lawsuits centralized in the MDL.
Once a defendant decides to settle, it may start reaching out to individual plaintiffs with initial offers. But when a defendant is up against a large enough number of lawsuits that settling cases individually may prove to be impractical, it’s common to set up a “global settlement” designed to efficiently resolve of the pending lawsuits as well as claims that may arise in the near future.
There’s a lot of variation in how a global settlement fund can be set up:
As we’ve seen, resolving a legal dispute with a settlement can save a lot of time and money for both parties. But sometimes, plaintiffs will refuse to accept a settlement and push for to go to trial instead.
Sometimes plaintiffs choose to turn down even a hefty settlement because they want the defendant’s guilt to be publicly demonstrated. For them, the idea of holding the manufacturer fully responsible for its actions and alerting the public to the alleged wrongdoing is more important than expediently receiving compensation for their injuries.
Some patients feel that withdrawing their legal claim would be letting the company “get away” with putting consumers in danger and may possibly allow the company to harm more innocent people.
Though this is an admirable sentiment, a settlement should always be carefully considered. For example, if controversy has already arisen about the alleged wrongdoing, going to trial may not necessarily help spread the word so much more–and may not be worth giving up compensation that could help you recover from your injuries and loss.
Some defendants only offer settlements if plaintiffs agree to sign away all current and future legal rights regarding the incident in question. Indeed, experienced medical device attorneys may advise accepting such a settlement, especially in cases where the possibility of future, unforeseen injuries may still arise.
As mentioned before, many defendants will specify a minimum percentage of plaintiffs that must agree to settle before they’ll start distributing compensation. If not enough plaintiffs commit to settle, then the settlement will be considered void. Plaintiffs may choose to reject a global settlement for the previous 2 reasons we discussed, as well as others, such as dissatisfaction with the amount of compensation promised in the settlement.
Legal observers believe that Stryker may attempt to settle lawsuits over its LFIT V40 Femoral Heads, considering that the manufacturer already settled litigation involving two of its earlier modular hip products.
Stryker set up a global settlement program in 2014, offering a total of about $1.4 billion for hip replacement patients who needed revision surgery before November 3, 2014 due to failure of a recalled Rejuvenate or ABG II implants.
The settlement amount allotted to any one victim varied depending on the details of his/her individual case, but the terms of settlement agreement offered every eligible claimant a base amount of $300,000 — the largest minimum awarded so far in the history of hip implant litigation.
Continue Reading: Patients Report Severe Stryker Hip Side Effects