Zimmer Knee Implant MDL Heads For First Bellwether Trial
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Zimmer Knee Implant MDL Heads For First Bellwether Trial

The first bellwether in the multidistrict litigation claiming the medical device manufacturer Zimmer released a defective knee implant to the public, garnering more than 1,000 individual lawsuits, is set to begin in October.

Saturday, September 12, 2015 - The beginning of the first bellwether trial focusing on Zimmer Holdings Inc.'s NexGen Knee implants is slated to begin in roughly a month on October 13. The case is part of more than 1,000 that are currently pending against the medical device manufacturer in multidistrict litigation. The initial cases in the motion to transfer were certified to be heard in an Illinois U.S. District Court.

Plaintiffs claim that since the introduction of the NexGen knee implant in 1995, Zimmer has made changes to the design that resulted in the devices losing their effectiveness and causing a series of complication for patients. The allegations state that the new knee implant tweaks to allow for more flexibility designed by Zimmer in 2001 were inherently faulty by design and failed long before their intended range of use, resulting in patients requiring revision surgery to adjust or replace their implants. Plaintiffs have complained of loose implants, recurring pain and discomfort and premature failure that results in the necessity for revision surgeries.

Zimmer claimed that changes the company made to the knee implant would allow for greater flexibility and range of motion for patients. However, the changes have allegedly caused a host of problems for those who use the devices. With more than 1,000 lawsuits already filed and more likely on the way, the bellwether trials could be the first step in a series of settlements reached with plaintiffs adversely affected by the defective knee implants.

The bellwether trial set to begin October 13 will be the first in the Zimmer Nexgen knee implant MDL and will go a long way toward setting the tone of the litigation to come, whether that results in more trials or a series of settlements reached with the plaintiffs. The lawsuits involved in the MDL come from across the country and all carry similar questions of fact relating to the negative side effects of the NexGen knee implant design. The particular elements of the named in the lawsuits deal with the MIS Tibial, LPS-Flex and CR-Flex femoral components of the implants which were modified in 2001 to allow for more flexibility in the joint.

The lawsuits are looking to recover damages related to both physical and financial hardships caused by the faulty implants. The cases were first consolidated into multidistrict litigation in August of 2011 before U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer. Zimmer also recently had to issue a recall regarding another one of its knee implant devices. A component used in their knee implants called the Persona Trabecular Metal Tibia Plate, which appeared on the market in 2012, also turned out similar allegations of loosening and issued a recall by Zimmer in early 2015.

The lawsuits are consolidated in the Northern District of Illinois Federal Court. Two additional cases have been selected to undergo the bellwether trial process and will follow the proceedings of the first. The first case will look at the case of a 72-year-old woman, who fits the most common demographic of claimants involved in the MDL.

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