Lawyers on behalf of more than 600 individuals, all of whom have been injured as a result of the early failure and removal of their metal-on-metal prosthetic hips, were back in Court last week for the latest hearing in what has been billed as one of the largest product liability group actions in recent years.
Leigh Day, who are instructed as Lead Solicitors on a number of the metal-on-metal group actions before the Court, met with legal representatives for some of the biggest names in medical devices including Smith & Nephew, Zimmer, Corin Cormet and Depuy Syntheses, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
The purpose of the Court hearing was to determine the way in which the large number of separate metal-on-metal group actions before the Court should be managed to trial, following on from a judgment last November. At the November 2015 hearing the Court ruled that, because there were are large number of separate group actions before the Court all of which concerned metal on metal hips, the Court would need to impose a case management structure that would ensure the efficient use of Court resources – whilst also affording the Claimants swift access to justice.
Despite strong arguments advanced on behalf of Claimants in the Zimmer litigation, the Court ruled that the two largest group actions, concerning the Pinnacle Ultamet THR and the Corin Cormet THR and resurfacing devices, should now progress to trial. Crucially a trial window beginning 9 October 2017 was set aside for this purpose.
The Court ruled that all other metal-on-metal device litigation (including cases involving Zimmer, Biomet, Finsbury and Smith & Nephew components, for example) should be stayed pending the outcome of the Pinnacle/Corin trial: It is the Court’s intention that whilst the outcome in the Pinnacle/Corin trial will not be directly binding on other metal-on-metal litigation it will provide an essential indicator, for those parties to actions now stayed, as to the merits of their respective cases and may hasten settlement discussions in other cases.
As a result of last week’s hearing the Court has now ordered a strict timetable that will progress both the Pinnacle/ Corin cases to Trial in October 2017.
Boz Michalowska, Lead Solicitor for the Pinnacle litigation commented;
“The fact that we now have a Court approved timetable which will compel two of the highest profile metal-on-metal hip manufacturers to face trial during autumn 2017 is good news for all of those injured by metal-on-metal hip devices. I anticipate that some Claimants, implanted with metal-on-metal devices other than Pinnacle or Corin components, may be disappointed that their cases have been stayed pending the outcome of the Pinnacle/Corin trial. To those Claimants, I would say that proceeding in this way will assist in minimising the cost of their individual cases and enable swifter resolution of all cases, irrespective of who the Defendant manufacturer is”.