Hip Replacement Lawsuits Against Stryker Reach Settlements

Company Expects to Pay Up to $1 Billion to Resolve All Litigation

Things are heating up in about one thousand lawsuits pending in federal and state courts against Stryker Corp., which manufactured the Rejuvenate and ABG II hip replacement devices.

Some recent news items which have been positive for plaintiffs increase the likelihood that several hundred more lawsuits will be filed against Stryker in the coming months. Oklahoma residents who received a Stryker metal-on-metal hip replacement device and have experienced severe health consequences should contact an attorney immediately.

Stryker placed the Rejuvenate and ABG products on the market in 2008. However, in 2012 the company did a voluntary recall after receiving numerous complaints from the approximately 20,000 patients who had received the hip replacement devices.

Entering 2014, more than 400 federal cases are pending in a consolidated multidistrict litigation in Minnesota, and more than 500 additional cases are pending at the state level in New Jersey, home of the Stryker subsidiary, Stryker Orthopaedics.

Recent developments indicate that many of those hundreds of plaintiffs may eventually receive huge awards from Stryker to compensate them for the suffering and permanent damage they have experienced.

Company Expects to Pay Big

Stryker Corp. expects to shell out between $700 million to more than $1 billion to resolve its litigation problems.  The Wall Street Journal reported those numbers, based on a quarterly regulatory filing by Stryker. That projection is almost double the amount the company was projecting for litigation costs in its previous quarterly filing.

That comes to about $1 million per plaintiff, if the total was distributed evenly among the current federal and state plaintiffs. However, Stryker’s projection may take into consideration that several hundred more lawsuits may emerge in 2014.

Several Lawsuits Settled

Meanwhile, in the multi-county litigation (MCL) pending in Bergen County, NJ, under Judge Brian R. Martinotti, it was announced just a few days ago that Stryker had reached confidential settlements with four plaintiffs.

A group of 10 cases had been selected for meditation from the more than 500 cases pending at the state level. The idea is to mediate those 10 cases first, which may pave the way to resolution of the other cases.

In a December 16 order signed by Judge Martinotti, the court announced that:

  • Four of the 10 cases have been resolved through mediation. Although the order doesn’t explicitly say it, confidential settlements were almost certainly reached in those cases.
  • Three more of the 10 cases are set for mediation this month.
  • Ten additional cases have been selected to make up “Phase 2” of the mediation process.

Problem: Metal-on-Metal

The Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG devices are among a wave of “metal-on-metal” hip replacement devices which have turned out to be extremely problematic, resulting in recalls and lawsuits against several manufacturers. Patients who have received Stryker metal-on-metal hip replacement devices have complained of severe health consequences including:

  • Metallosis (metal poisoning)
  • Necrosis (tissue damage)
  • Extensive and permanent muscle damage
  • Osteolysis ( bone deterioration)
  • Severe pain, including difficulty walking and standing

The Stryker devices are made of titanium and cobalt. The problem is that when the metal rubs against metal, fretting and corrosion occur. Metal debris is released into the body, sometimes causing serious adverse effects.

One plaintiff, a Chicago woman, was found to have a cobalt level in her blood that was 14 times the normal amount. During surgery to remove the device, her surgeon found what the woman described as “a cyst the size of a football.” The woman now walks with a cane and her doctors

Such adverse effects have often led to the need for revision surgery to correct or replace the devices.

When Stryker voluntarily recalled the devices in 2012, it said the action was prompted “due to the potential risks associated with modular-neck stems. These risks include the potential for fretting and/or corrosion at or about the modular-neck junction, which may result in adverse local tissue reactions manifesting with pain and/or swelling.”

The federal lawsuits against Stryker were consolidated in June 2013 in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota under District Judge Donovan W. Frank. The court reported on Dec. 16 that 462 lawsuits are part of the federal MDL. That number is updated on a monthly basis.

While cases from across the country are consolidated in the federal MDL, residents of New Jersey have the ability to keep their cases in that state’s multi-county litigation, since Stryker Orthopaedic’s headquarters are there.

To learn more about metal-on-metal hip replacement devices, as well as your legal rights if you or a loved one have experienced adverse effects from a hip replacement device, see our page on “Hip Replacement: Metal-on-Metal Devices.