A co-leader of the plaintiff executive committee told Law360 (10/26/17) following a case management conference in October that the form – already intrusive – went well beyond the limits of appropriateness.
According to Law360 a survey intended to guide defense attorneys as to the most appropriate candidates to depose, sought names and addresses of plaintiffs’ children; bankruptcy filings since their hip surgery; a detailed 10-year employment history; all social media addresses; personal websites; medical treatment unrelated to patients’ legs, hips, or knees in the 10 years prior to their hip surgery; any Social Security disability benefits; and a list of all prescription medications.
At a case management conference October 26, US District Judge Indira Talwani questioned the need for such intrusive details.
“Does everyone have to disclose their birth control? Their HIV information?” Talwani asked. “What’s the relevancy of a bankruptcy filing?”
There are some 125 hip replacement implant failure lawsuits alleging the Stryker LFIT Anatomic Cobalt Chromium V40 Femoral Heads are defective. The medical device is manufactured by Howmedica Osteonics Corp., a subsidiary of Stryker Corp. Allegations brought by plaintiffs in many a defective hip implant lawsuit include corrosion and pain stemming from the ball-joint portion of the artificial hips. Many plaintiffs required revision surgery to either correct, or remove the problematic devices. Revision surgery is often more complex than the initial hip replacement surgery, with patients requiring a second window of healing time and therapy that could negatively impact their capacity to earn income, maintain a career, or care for family members.
According to Law360, attorneys for Howmedica defended the detail in the survey as necessary, so as not to limit what experts for the defense could bring to their testimony relevant to the allegedly failed implant. For example, the attorneys noted, information about a plaintiff’s use of alcohol, potential smoking habits or use of medications could reveal pre-existing issues surrounding bone quality.
But the judge didn’t buy it. She wondered why it was necessary to know “the name of your former spouses and nature of the termination of the relationship,” or, for that matter, “the place of birth of your spouse – not sure why you care.”
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Talwani suggested attorneys from both sides get together, and that attorneys for the defense seek guidance from plaintiff’s legal teams in order to identify core questions that would prove less burdensome for plaintiffs. A patient’s procedure, surgeon, hardware and medical history after the surgery would be considered core medical information.
The hip replacement implant failure MDL is In re: Stryker LFIT V40 Femoral Head Products Liability Litigation, Case No. 1:17-md-02768, in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts.