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New York MDL Consolidates Growing Number of Exactech Defective Hip Implant Lawsuits

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Hip implant recipients must be proactive in seeking care

Brooklyn, NYAs of February 2024, more than 1,600 defective hip implant lawsuits were pending in multidistrict litigation before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. A status conference has been set for March 13, 2024, at which time the parties will discuss the status of the litigation, unresolved discovery matters and the selection of bellwether cases.

In the meantime, the number of lawsuits will continue to mushroom. That is the strategic number to watch right now.

The bellwether trials will likely not start until late 2024 or 2025. The jury awards may then provide a measure of Exectech’s potential financial liability. That is the number to watch in 2025 as the verdicts begin to roll in.

Only then will meaningful settlement negotiations begin in the remaining lawsuits. It is a long, slow process, but the opportunity to consolidate pre-trial motions and discovery may be worth it for people who have been harmed by their defective implants.

New hips, knees and ankles

The average patient age for hip or knee replacement surgery is between 66 and 68, and most patients can expect to outlive their new joint. However, when a defective implant fails prematurely, the consequences can be devastating. These can include:
  • Revision Surgery. Many patients require painful and expensive revision surgeries to replace either all or part of the implant. The results are often not as good as the first time around;
  • Pain. The pain may be severe and consistent and may either be localized to the area of the implant or radiate to other parts of the body;
  • Swelling. The inflammation may indicate an infection or the continued degradation of the implant;
  • Decreased range of motion. A decreased range of motion may also cause severe pain. Long term decreased mobility may have serious health and quality of life consequences; and
  • Instability. The failure of the implant may cause the joint to give way, increasing the risk of falls or other injuries.
Surgeons have implanted more than 143,000 potentially defective Exectech hip, knee and ankle devices. If these new joints fail early, thousands of people could experience serious complications.

Persistent trouble traced to packaging

In 2020, researchers found that a part of Exactech’s hip implant device -- the polyethylene liner used in its Connexion GXL hip systems -- seemed to be “prone to a high rate of early failure from wear and tear” and the concomitant destruction of bone tissue. In July 2021, the company informed doctors of a higher-than-expected number of cases in which that component showed early wear.

A year later, on June 28, 2021, Exactech issued a product safety alert regarding the clinical performance of the polyethylene liner used in its Connexion GXL hip systems. Yet another year later, in August 2022, Exactech expanded its June 2021 recall to include additional Connexion GXL hip liners and other polyethylene liners.

In January 2024, the FDA announced that Exactech had also recalled an undetermined number of AcuMatch Hip System units after receiving complaints of loss of vacuum in the inner vacuum bag of four devices. The recall affected devices distributed in the U.S. and 12 other countries.

The problem with Exactech’s hip prostheses, as with its knee and ankle implants, is traceable to a packaging defect dating back as far as 2004. The key fact is that the polyethylene components of Exactech implants must not be exposed to oxygen prior to surgery.
The recalled Exactech devices were packaged in non-standard vacuum bags that are oxygen resistant but lacked an ethylene vinyl alcohol secondary oxygen barrier. This defective packaging exposed the polyethylene of the Exactech implants to oxygen and caused them to degrade before they were ever implanted in patients.

Protect yourself

It can be hard to know what to do when your new hip or knee is yelling at you in the real-world equivalent of ALL CAPS. Maybe it’s part of the healing process; maybe it’s not. Either way, you need to talk to your doctor.

At the minimum, find out the name of the manufacturer and the model of your implant, especially if your new hip or knee is a few years old. Many orthopedic practices post this information and other surgical records in a private online file. Persist if you find the name/password/first pet’s name jungle a bit much to manage.

If you are not satisfied, call a lawyer who specializes in defective hip implant lawsuits. Being proactive may save you pain and the risk of further injury.


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