October 3, 2012 — Lawsuits involving defective Biomet M2A Magnum hip implants have been centralized into one federal court. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) created the MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, before Judge Robert L. Miller. Nearly 70 pending lawsuits will be transferred to the court.
The lawsuits all involve similar allegations, legal issues, and injuries. Plaintiffs allege that the metal-on-metal design of a Biomet M2A Magnum is defective. When the metal parts of the device grind together, metal ion debris can accumulate around the hip implant and cause health problems. Potential side effects include metal poisoning (metallosis), tissue damage, early failure of the device, and revision surgery.
Biomet made several arguments against centralizing the litigation. The company believes that most lawsuits involve plaintiff-specific issues that are inappropriate for a central litigation. Furthermore, the Biomet M2A Magnum has been on the market for several years, and it has never been recalled. Biomet has also already settled a few of the lawsuits.
However, the JPML disagreed, and found that the litigation should be centralized in an MDL. According to the judges, “the history of settling several cases is dwarfed by the almost 70 cases currently pending in federal court.”
It is very common for the JPML to create an MDL for large drug and medical device litigations. By transferring most lawsuits to one court, there is less risk of duplicative discovery or conflicting rulings in the lower courts. The location also increases convenience. The JPML chose to locate the MDL in Indiana because Biomet has its headquarters in the state. An MDL can also help conserve court resources and expedite a resolution.
Several other medical device companies have also faced MDLs involving hip implants — including the DePuy ASR hip, DePuy Pinnacle hip, and the Wright Conserve. These implants all have the metal-on-metal design, which researchers now warn is associated with higher risk of failure and complications than plastic or ceramic designs.