October 3, 2012 — The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has ordered that nationwide lawsuits involving the Biomet M2A Magnum hip implant must be centralized in federal court. The JPML has chosen the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, where Judge Robert L. Miller presides. The MDL will centralize nearly 70 Biomet hip implant lawsuits currently pending in federal court.
The Biomet M2A Magnum hip implant is a metal-on-metal hip implant. Plaintiffs claims against the company focus on the metal ion debris generated by the metal parts grinding together. This debris can cause metallosis (metal poisoning), tissue damage, and premature failure of the device that may require corrective surgery.
Biomet opposed centralizing the litigation in an MDL for several reasons. The M2A has not been recalled, and has been on the market for several years. The company has also settled several lawsuits in the past. The company also argues that lawsuits will mostly involve individualized, plaintiff-specific issues, and are therefore inappropriate for a centralized litigation.
The JPML disagreed, saying, “the history of settling several cases is dwarfed by the almost 70 cases currently pending in federal court.”
There are many benefits for centralizing large litigations involving plaintiffs throughout the United States. The court can avoid duplicative discovery, conflicting rulings in lower courts, and conserve resources of all parties. The JPML chose Indiana, near where Biomet is headquartered, despite the fact that no lawsuits have yet been filed in the Indiana state court system, and no parties suggested this location. The convenience of a single location can increase efficiency, reduce costs, and quicken a resolution of the litigation.
Biomet is not the first American company to face lawsuits involving allegedly defective hip implants. Other recent MDLs include the DePuy ASR hip implant, DePuy Pinnacle hip implant, and Wright Conserve hip implant. All of these products are metal-on-metal hip implants, which have been linked to higher rates of failure and complications than metal-on-plastic or metal-on-ceramic hip implants.