Parties involved in the DePuy Pinnacle multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas have agreed on the process for selecting a small group of cases that will be prepared for early trial dates. Known as “bellwether” lawsuits, the trials are designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their cases.
Currently, more than 4,000 product liability lawsuits are in Pinnacle MDL before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade in the Northern District of Texas. Each complaint makes similar allegations against DePuy for injuries sustained from the metal-on-metal Pinnacle device. Specifically, the claims are that the Pinnacle device was defectively designed or manufactured, and that inadequate warnings were provided about the risk of early complications or problems, which often develop within a few years post-original implant. Patients have reported issues similar to those reported in DePuy ASR patients, including pain, swelling, component loosening and need for premature revision surgery. A danger for metallosis also exists, a condition involving the build-up of metallic debris in the soft tissues of the body.
In August 2012, the Honorable James E. Kinkeade ordered that the first Pinnacle hip replacement trials would begin in September 2014. Another order issued this year by Judge Kinkeade requires Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ counsel to choose eight cases for consideration as “bellwether” trials. Both sides are expected to each select four cases by September 2, 2013, for a total of eight cases. Of the eight cases selected, four will go to trial in September 2014.
Bellwether trials are a vital part of the litigation process and will impact all Pinnacle cases. The bellwether process is designed to test the waters and allow both the Defendants and Plaintiffs to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. It also provides information about how jurors will respond and react to each side’s arguments. The outcome of bellwether trials can provide direction to both Defendants and Plaintiffs, particularly in personal injury cases, where it might be more prudent to reach a settlement rather than go to trial.
Anyone implanted with a metal-on-metal hip implant should have his or her case investigated to determine its merits. If you need more information, contact Navan Ward, a lawyer in our firm’s Mass Torts section, who is heavily involved in this litigation, at 1-800-898-2034 or by email at Navan.Ward@beasleyallen.com.
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