Thursday, January 5, 2012

Consolidation of Zimmer Knee Lawsuits, Leads Many to Hope For Settlements

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 multidistrict litigation process, more commonly referred to as the Zimmer NexGen MDL, is often confused with a class action lawsuit against Zimmer. While the MDL and a Zimmer NexGen knee class action lawsuit have many similarities during pretrial proceedings, each claim remains an individual lawsuit, where the plaintiff must establish that their injuries were caused by Zimmer knee problems and each claim will be decided individually be a jury.

Zimmer Argues Health Risks Of NexGen Components
In opposing the MDL consolidation, Zimmer had argued that the involved NexGen components are “quite distinct, and thus discovery would not significantly overlap among the actions.’ 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. The panel stated in its ruling that it has ordered centralization in other dockets that involved multiple devices, including Medtronic and Guidant implantable defibrillator lawsuits. The panel also found Zimmer’s claims of how different the devices were to be dubious. They cited plaintiff’s evidence in the ruling of similarities between the language used to describe the devices and the procedures to implant them which were used by Zimmer in seeking FDA approval to release them on the market.
 Zimmer Knee Recall Unmoved By Study Results
In March 2010, a former Zimmer consultant presented data that reviewed the two year results of 108 knee replacements involving the Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex Porous. The research found that about 9% resulted in the need for revision surgery within two years and that 36% showed signs that the replacement knee was loosening. Although the consultant called for Zimmer to recall the NexGen knee replacement parts, the company dismissed the concerns and attempted to place the blame for the problems on the prominent orthopedics surgeon's surgical technique.  Zimmer allegedly downplayed and understated the risk of Zimmer NexGen knee problems.