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Arguments Heard in Proposed Biomet Metal-On-Metal Hip Implant MDL

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Arguments are being heard in a proposed Biomet metal-on-metal hip implant multidistrict litigation (MDL). NewsInferno recently wrote that a lawsuit filed in a Nevada federal courtroom claimed the Biomet M2a-Magnum metal-on-metal hip system is both defective and has a high early failure rate; these issues led to serious and debilitating injuries from, yet another, patient implanted with these devices.

The question remains: Will the Biomet M2a-Magnum hip implant device lawsuits will be consolidated in one court? An answer is expected this week following a hearing before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on September 20, 2012, said The Legal Examiner. To date, some 40 Biomet lawsuits have been filed in federal courts nationwide, with plaintiffs alleging that the device leads to metal poisoning—metallosis—and early loosening, which, in turn, necessitate complex and painful revision surgeries.

Very recently, the national law firm of Parker Waichman LLP announced it filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada against Biomet Inc., and other companies associated with Biomet’s M2a-Magnum system. According to that lawsuit, the female plaintiff involved alleged that Biomet and its subsidiaries did not adequately test the device’s safety, yet continued to market it as both safe and effective. This particular patient claimed she suffered failures of her Biomet M2a-Magnum system twice, leading to two expensive, time-consuming, and painful surgeries, said NewsInferno.

This June, two plaintiffs—Leyda Ching and Diane Winningham—brought a motion to transfer all existing Biomet M2a-Magnum hip implant lawsuits to the Northern District of California or the Southern District of New York, wrote The Legal Examiner. Not surprisingly, Biomet expressed its opposition to the proposed centralization and said the cases are significantly different from one another because the components used in the device may be different from one another and may be used in combination with other companies’ components. Because of this, said Biomet, plaintiffs would benefit from coordinated proceedings, otherwise, different testimony, facts, and details will be required, adding that it would be better able to handle the various lawsuits based on its record of efficiently resolving prior claims through out-of-court settlements.

Attorneys for Biomet lawyers believe the JPML will consolidate the cases as similarities will likely be viewed as more prevalent than differences, consolidation is considered more efficient for all parties, judicial resources will be conserved, and redundancies and duplicative discovery will be minimized, explained the Legal Examiner.

Last week, the JPML heard arguments on both sides, with plaintiffs seeking centralization and providing evidence of similar and consolidated cases, including litigation over DePuy ASR and Pinnacle hip implants, and the Zimmer Durom Cup, said The Legal Examiner. These and the Biomet M2a-Magnum are metal-on-metal implants constructed with a metal ball that is inserted in a metal cup, said The Legal Examiner; all have been associated to significant complications, the result of the metal components rubbing against each other. This rubbing can shed cobalt and chromium shards that enter the bloodstream; can cause early and permanent device loosening; and can lead to tissue damage, bone loss, pseudotumors, pain, and instability, which can lead to the need for revision surgery.

In June, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said it had received 16,800 negative event reports involving metal hips between 2000 and 2011; more than 14,000 involved revision surgeries, said NewsInferno. Last year, the Australian National Joint Registry reported that patients implanted Biomet’s M2a-Magnum experienced an unacceptably high—7.2%–annual revision rate, said The Legal Examiner.

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