Earlier this month, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided that Biomet M2A Magnum hip claims will be centralized in the Northern District of Indiana (See Case MDL No. 2391). The pretrial proceedings will be assigned to the Honorable Robert L. Miller, Jr., who is experienced and well-versed in complex mass tort litigation.
The Panel made this decision despite objections from Biomet, whose lawyers argued against consolidation. Specifically, defendants argued that consolidation of the lawsuits was not appropriate because (1) plaintiffs’ injuries were too different, (2) the Biomet M2A Magnum was not subject to a recall, and (3) the system has been comparatively less problematic than similar hip implant products of its competitors.
However, the Panel’s final position stated that, since the cases involved common questions of fact, consolidation would better serve the convenience of both parties and the witnesses involved.
Although the Panel agreed with plaintiffs on the issue of centralizing the Biomet M2a Magnum claims, the JPML had its own ideas pertaining to the appropriate district for the proceedings. The Northern District of California, the Eastern District of Louisiana, the District of New Jersey, the Eastern District of New York, the Southern District of New York, the Southern District of Ohio, and the Southern District of Texas were all suggestions from plaintiffs in support of centralization. However, the Panel decided on the Northern District of Indiana based on its central geographic location, proximity to Biomet’s headquarters in Warsaw, Indiana, and favorable docket conditions.
The Biomet M2a Magnum litigation now joins the DePuy ASR, DePuy Pinnacle, Zimmer Durom and Wright Conserve as the fifth MDL for metal-on-metal hip implant devices. There have also been motions in multiple states to consolidate cases for the recently recalled Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hips.
What is an MDL?
When a drug, medical device, or other type of product is alleged to cause injuries and/or deaths, many lawsuits against the manufacturer of the product can be filed in courtrooms across the country.
If these cases are deemed similar enough to each other, they can be merged into a multidistrict litigation for consistency and efficiency purposes. The goal of the MDL process is to avoid duplicate discovery, inconsistent pre-trial rulings and conflicting verdicts.
The MDL process also helps speed up the process of handling numerous (sometimes thousands) of separate civil lawsuits pertaining to the same alleged tort (wrongdoing).
In determining whether consolidation to an MDL is appropriate, a panel considers whether civil actions pending in different districts involve one or more common question of fact. If it is decided that consolidation makes sense, the panel will then decide on the district in which to centralize and the judge to preside over the matter.
Although multidistrict litigations can be confused with class action suits, they have important differences. The cases that are consolidated into an MDL start and remain individual claims throughout the litigation.