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June 2015, First Biomet Hip Lawsuits Go to Trial in MDL

A recent scheduling order issued by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Miller has outlined the selection process for bellwether cases in the Re: Biomet M2A Magnum Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation. The order, handed down on December 10, indicates that the first Biomet hip lawsuit trials will likely take place in June, August, October and December of 2015.

All of the Biomet lawsuits consolidated before Judge Miller contain common allegations and issues of fact, and were coordinated for pretrial proceedings in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. Claimants argue that the defendant’s metal-on-metal hip implants, including the M2A Magnum, suffer design defects and failed prematurely, causing them to suffer serious bodily injuries and financial losses.

According to the order, the bellwether selection process will occur as follows:

  • Legal counsel for plaintiffs and the defendant will each choose 3 cases by February 7, 2014
  • Discovery must be completed on those cases no later than April 18, 2014
  • Five of the best representative cases will be chosen from this pool in July 2014 

The federal MDL was established in October 2012, after the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation determined that since cases contained central issues regarding alleged design flaws and hip replacement complications, centralizing claims before a single judge would minimize judicial burdens and promote efficiency for all parties.

To date, more than 900 Biomet hip replacement lawsuits have been brought, and are now pending before the Honorable Robert L. Miller.

Why plaintiffs file a Biomet hip lawsuit

At the core of all complaints regarding the Biomet M2a Magnum hip implant is early hip failure and metal contamination (metallosis). These issues stem from the prosthetic’s metal-on-metal design, which plaintiffs argue causes components to shed dangerous levels of cobalt and chromium as the femoral head wears against the acetublar cup. Claimants are suing based on a number of causes including negligence, design defect, breach of warranties and manufacturing defect.

Complications cited by patients who suffered early M2a Magnum replacement failure include:

  • Persistent pain
  • Swelling
  • Reduced mobility
  • Loosening of the device
  • Inability to stand or walk
  • Problems associated with metallosis
  • Need for revision surgery 

Plaintiffs are demanding compensation to help defer economic burdens associated with their hip replacement failure. Damages sought include those for lost wages, related medical bills for revision surgery, reduced earning capacity, permanent disability, emotional trauma, and pain and suffering.

Metal-on-metal hips under scrutiny

Allegations raised in Biomet hip lawsuits mirror those involving the recalled DePuy ASR device – another metal-on-metal hip that has spurred litigation across the nation. In recent years, numerous studies have highlighted the dangers of metal hip replacements, which while theoretically are more durable, are also prone to fretting and metal corrosion. When toxic metal debris enters a patient’s bloodstream, soft tissue damage and corrective surgery are almost always necessary.

This past year, the FDA issued a memo highlighting concerns with metal-on-metal implants, stating:

“Over time, the metal particles around some implants can cause damage to bone and/or tissue surrounding the implant and joint. This is sometimes referred to as an ‘adverse local tissue reaction (ALTR)’ or an ‘adverse reaction to metal debris (ARMD).’ Soft tissue damage may lead to pain, implant loosening, device failure, and the need for revision surgery (the old device is removed and replaced with another one). Patients with a progressing ALTR may be considered for earlier revision to prevent extensive damage to bone, muscle and nerves.”

The agency further warns that systemic reactions to metallosis can include these complications:

  • General hypersensitivity reaction
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Neurological changes including sensory changes (auditory, or visual impairments)
  • Psychological status change (including depression or cognitive impairment)
  • Renal function impairment
  • Thyroid dysfunction

  1. Biomet, Hip Joint Replacement,

  2. US District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Re: Biomet M2A Magnum Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation,

  3. FDA, Concerns about Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants,