Plaintiffs of lawsuits with claims stemming from the use of LFIT Anatomic Cobalt Chromium V40 Femoral Head devices made by Stryker Orthopedics have asked the Multicounty Litigation Center of New Jersey to consolidate related cases in the state’s docket into Bergen County Superior Court.
In a letter to Acting Administrative Director of the Courts Glenn A. Grant, attorney Ellen Relkin of Weitz & Luxenberg requested the consolidation based on 25 cases already pending in Bergen County Superior Court. Not only are there currently 85 cases pending throughout the entire state related to V40 hip implant components but the pace of filing has increased recently, said Relkin.
According to the New Jersey Law Journal, Relkin said the victims of Stryker’s femoral heads have suffered similar ailments. Some users have experienced wearing away of the device and the release of metal particles into the tissue and bone surrounding the V40 femoral head. As a result, she said the metal particles puts patients at risk of necrosis of tissue and bone cells, as well as elevated levels of cobalt and chromium in the blood. Revision surgery is also sometimes necessary.
The request comes just a few weeks after a federal request was made by plaintiffs to the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). That application, filed by Walter Kelley of Kelley, Bernheim & Dolinsky in Plymouth, Mass., is seeking federal cases to be transferred into a single docket.
The JPML is expected to decide on the application March 30, with one request asking for cases to be transferred to U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts where cases are moving forward and another asking for a move to U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.
According to the New Jersey Law Journal, the federal application says that the basis of move involves six cases filed in three districts, but “based on ongoing efforts of counsel in obtaining cases as well as information and belief there are potentially thousands of instances of device failure, plaintiff expects many additional such actions to be filed in the state and federal courts.”
For the statewide multicounty litigation request for New Jersey, Bergen County was selected as the venue because it is the county where Stryker is located. On top of that, Relkin said that Bergen County is not populated with employees of other drug and medical device companies so it would be easier to find an impartial jury.
Superior Court Judge Rachelle Harz, who would hear the multicounty litigation in Bergen County, also has experience with litigation related to Stryker Rejuvenate and Stryker ABG devices.
In a Feb. 6 notice to the bar, administrative director Glenn Grant acknowledged the receipt of a consolidation application and requests that anyone who wants to comment on or object to the application do so in writing by March 6.
So far, Stryker has yet to comment on the multicounty litigation request but has announced its opposition to the federal multidistrict litigation request made to the JPML.