Metal on Metal Hip Multidistrict Litigation
The Fine Law Firm handles product liability cases involving defective hip implants. Such medical devices include Wright Medical Technology’s Conserve Hip Implant System, Stryker Orthopedic’s Rejuvenate, ABG II, and Accolade models, and DePuy’s ASR models. The majority of these cases involve what is known as metal on metal (MoM) systems. These hip implant systems were marketed as being durable alternatives to other hip implant systems. The main feature that made these hip implant systems attractive to orthopedic surgeons and patients was the fact that rather than containing a synthetic layer between the ball and hip socket, instead, these MoM systems provided a longer lasting solution since the hip implant pieces that rubbed together during movement were metal on metal and would demonstrate decreased wear and tear and therefore a longer lasting hip replacement alternative for patients.
The benefits of these hip implant systems were quickly adopted by the medical community and soon became the gold standard of hip replacement options. Unfortunately, as more and more of these hip implant systems poured into the market, troubling concerns surfaced as more and more metal on metal hip implant patients reported increasing complications including swelling, pain, numbness, and a loss of mobility. As doctors and researchers began to explore this troubling trend it became clear that the problem was caused by the same feature that the hip implant device manufacturers had boasted about. The fact that the hip implant components were metal on metal meant that as time passed small, microscopic shavings of metal were released and absorbed by surrounding tissue and the bloodstream. Because the majority of these orthopedic hip devices were manufactured with chromium, cobalt, and titanium, patients experienced a dramatic increase in the level of these elements in their system.
Rather than face ongoing metal poisoning, almost all surgeons who note complications in patients with metal-on-metal hip implants recommend replacement. Sadly, this is not a simple procedure. Often times it means removing a portion of the femur bone to extract a piece of the hip implant before replacing it and re-wiring the bone shut. The hip implant revision process is painful, scary, invasive, and requires a lengthy recovery. There can be complications such as fracture of the femur bone.
Due to the large number of cases that have arisen following the popularity of these metal on metal hip implant devices, many of these cases are being handled through what is known as multidistrict litigation, or MDL. Multidistrict litigation is in many ways a combination of a class action case and an individual medical malpractice case. A case that is in multidistrict litigation, will be pooled with other cases for purposes of the discovery phase of litigation. The most significant benefit of this process is that the costs to pursue the case are dramatically less than they would be with an individual claim. Almost always, these savings are passed on to the client and increase the total recovery.
After the discovery phase of a multidistrict litigation defective hip implant case, the case may remain within the multidistrict litigation pool to explore a possible settlement, or sent back to the initial court for negotiation and if necessary trial.