Arguments Heard in Zimmer Knee MDL
The orthopedic device manufacturer Zimmer, Inc. recently presented arguments to a federal judge in an effort to have hundreds of claims against it dismissed. Zimmer is the primary defendant in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) now pending the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The MDL was established to consolidate hundreds of claims against Zimmer for injuries allegedly caused by its NexGen line of artificial knee systems.
Thousands of patients have reported problems with the Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex system, including early loosening due to the failure of the femoral component to properly attach. Plaintiffs claim cases of early device failure are caused by a design flaw. Despite reports Zimmer knee failure, neither the FDA nor the manufacturer has issued a Zimmer NexGen knee recall.
Zimmer knee MDL master complaint challenged
The MDL currently includes 164 plaintiffs from 29 states, each represented by a Zimmer knee lawyer. As is usual under MDL procedures, each of the plaintiffs joins in on what is known as the “master complaint,” a document that sets forth the general claims against the defendants. Plaintiffs also file short form complaints that detail the particular facts of their individual cases.
On February 27, 2012, Zimmer filed a motion to dismiss the master complaint, arguing that its allegations were too general and conclusory to meet federal pleading standards. The company complains that the plaintiffs are “overreaching” in their effort to recover damages for their injuries. On June 21, 2012, Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer heard oral arguments on the motion. She is expected to announce her decision in the coming weeks.
Plaintiffs calling for Zimmer NexGen knee recall?
Though Zimmer argued that most of the master complaint was too vague to meet the requirements of federal pleading, the company did acknowledge the sufficiency of plaintiffs’ claims related to one allegedly flawed NexGen component. The 5950 MIS Tibial Component is one of the few components that has already been subject to a Zimmer NexGen knee recall.
The FDA ordered a Class II recall of the component in September of 2010, due to their “non-conforming geometry.” This defect caused the components to dislocate, resulting in pain, loss of mobility, infection, and osteoarthritis. In its motion to dismiss the master complaint, Zimmer acknowledged that claims related to the MIS Tibial Component met the pleading standards for design defect and failure to warn causes of action.
Thus, even if Judge Pallmeyer agrees to dismiss some portions of the master complaint without offering the plaintiffs an opportunity to amend, claims related the Tibial Component will likely stand.