Examining Zimmer Knee Settlement Possibilities After Grant of MDL
On August 8, 2011, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to consolidate all federal Zimmer knee lawsuits concerning the Zimmer NexGen knee replacement system into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Zimmer knee lawyers are now speculating as to whether or not this move may prompt Zimmer to more seriously consider out-of-court settlements for victims of Zimmer knee problems.
Zimmer against MDL for Zimmer knee lawsuits
During the MDL process, pretrial proceedings, including discovery, all take place in the same court under the same judge. This saves time and money, makes it more convenient for lawyers and witnesses, and helps reduce the likelihood of inconsistent testimony. Zimmer knee lawsuits, however, remain as individual cases for individual consideration by a jury.
The manufacturer was against consolidation of Zimmer knee lawsuits, arguing that the various cases were too different to work well in combined discovery. Specifically, they claimed that the various plaintiffs had been implanted with a variety of NexGen devices and component parts. In fact, it was the NexGen CR-Flex Porous Femoral knee component that was blamed for early failure rates in a 2010 report presented at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.
The JPML disagreed with the company, stating that the differences weren’t as great as Zimmer claimed.
Zimmer knee lawyers consider evidence of knee failure
Neither the FDA nor Zimmer has made any move to indicate a future Zimmer knee recall of any device within the NexGen family of products. That hasn’t changed even after two prominent orthopedic surgeons—Dr. Richard Berger and Dr. Craig Della Valle—presented evidence of a high rate of knee failure associated with the CR-Flex device. The Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex knee implant is not cemented to the bone, like older models, but relies on a porous coating to encourage fusing between the bone and the implant. If the knee fails to fuse, patients may have knee and joint pain, difficulty standing and walking, loosening, and early revision surgeries.
Increase in lawsuits and Zimmer knee settlements
The device manufacturer has indicated that it may work to resolve some of the lawsuits by offering Zimmer knee settlements. A settlement fund of $145 million has reportedly been set aside by Zimmer with regard to litigation surrounding a popular hip implant device.
Traditionally, MDL encourages companies to seek swift resolution to lawsuits. Expedited Zimmer knee settlements could be great news for many litigants involved in the litigation. However, Zimmer knee lawsuits have only recently been consolidated into MDL, and the device manufacturer’s next move at this time remains anybody’s guess.