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Edward Nitkewicz
Edward Nitkewicz
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Litigation update: defective hip and knee implant claims

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Update on claims regarding the Zimmer NexGen Knee Replacement and the DePuy Hip Replacement litigation.

Zimmer NexGen Knee Replacement failures have given rise to claims of failure soon after their implant. Last year, the New York Times reported that the manufacturer has "pushed back" against doctors who lodge complaints or share concerns.

For years, Dr. Richard A. Berger designed surgical tools and artificial joints for Zimmer Holdings, trained hundreds of doctors to use its products and talked it up wherever he went. In return, Zimmer, an orthopedic implant maker, helped enrich Dr. Berger, portraying him as a master surgeon and paying him more than $8 million over a decade.

Those days are gone. Dr. Berger started complaining to Zimmer a while back that one of its artificial-knee models was failing prematurely, and he went public recently with a study that he says proves it. Zimmer told him that the problem was not the artificial knee, but his technique, and pointed to data overseas indicating that the knee was safe.

Last year, Zimmer did not give Dr. Berger a new contract. The company says it routinely rotates consultants.

In a victory for the injured recipients of the Zimmer NexGen knees, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ("MDL") last week granted the motion of plaintiffs’ counsel centralize the litigation commenced against Zimmer, Inc. and its subsidiary companies, relating to its NexGen Knee replacement implants and the claims filed that they have presented an "unacceptably high" failure rate. The Order directed that 28 actions filed outside of the Northern District of Illinois are to be transferred to that district and assigned to the Honorable Rebecca R. Pallmeyer for coordinated multi district pre-trial proceedings.

DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc. waited until August of 2010 to announce a recall of its defective hip implant. Known as the ASR XL Acetabular and ASR Hip Resurfacing System, these ASR hips have been implanted in over 93,000 patients. Due to the premature failure of DePuy Hips, up to 12.5% (approximately one in eight) of patients may be forced to endure the pain and associated expenses of subsequent corrective surgery.

As a result, DePuy has issued a voluntary recall of its ASR Hip.

The MLD in the Depuy ASR cases were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) under federal District Court Judge David Katz of the Northern District of Ohio in Toledo(In re: DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., ASR Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation (MDL Docket No. 1:10-md-02197)).

More recently, DePuy has been subject to another MDL regarding its Pinnacle Hip Implants.

The nationwide hearing on Pinnacle hip implants follows the recent national coordination of lawsuits over the DePuy ASR(TM) Hip System and the ASR(TM) XL Acetabular System, which were recalled in August 2010. The DePuy Pinnacle® product, like the ASR devices, utilizes a metal-on-metal design, which experts have identified as a distinct flaw that can cause metal shavings to dislodge inside a patient’s body, resulting in infections and other problems.

Meryl Sanders Viener, a partner at the Sanders Law Firm, is a nominee to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee of the DePuy Pinnacle litigation.