On November 3, 2014, a global settlement program involving Stryker’s Rejuvenate and ABGII modular hip implants was executed before and announced by Superior Court Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergen County, New Jersey. Settlement payments are expected to exceed $1 billion, available to more than 4,000 eligible known claimants nationwide. Tobias Millrood, a partner at the Pogust Millrood firm near Philadelphia, points out that the settlement is an uncapped settlement, with no fixed fund for payment of claims for eligible claimants who experience certain future complications.
“The terms of the settlement are not the only feature of this litigation that made it notable,” said Millrood. “It is very unusual for the parties to find common ground that will give fair compensation to plaintiffs so early on, and I am very proud to serve on the PSC and play an instrumental role in the process that led to this ground-breaking settlement.”
The Stryker litigation was established as a consolidated mass tort in January 2013, and Millrood’s firm worked on it for almost two years. Millrood’s key involvement began with his appointment by Judge Martinotti to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC), and was magnified when he was also appointed the Chair of Discovery for the litigation, a crucial and important role which helped create pressure leading to the settlement.
Early in the litigation process, Judge Martinotti established a unique, bellwether mediation process that was spearheaded by outside mediator Hon. Diane Welsh of JAMS Philadelphia. That process resulted in individual settlements of 21 cases and led the parties to negotiate the global settlement. “I applaud Judge Martinotti and Judge Welsh for their commitment to pave new ground in creating what we hope will be a new model for future settlements,” Millrood said.
Stryker Orthopedics issued a voluntary recall of its modular Stryker Rejuvenate and ABGII hip stems on July 3, 2012, due to fretting and corrosion near the modular neck-stem junction of the implant that results in adverse tissue reactions, metallosis, necrosis, and the need for revision surgeries. The settlement provides for gross base awards of $300,000 per qualified implant revision surgery and provides for significant additional compensation for claimants who suffered complications during revision surgery and for other damages, including future surgeries caused by complications. The settlement also provides compensation for individuals who need a revision but are medically unable to undergo the surgery. With expected participation in the program to include an overwhelming majority of eligible claimants, those claimants could begin receiving their awards in the summer of 2015.
“New Jersey was an epicenter of the litigation and the majority of the claimants nationwide are there,” Millrood said, both because Stryker Orthopedics is headquartered in Mahwah, New Jersey, and because plaintiffs from any state were allowed by law to file their case in New Jersey and keep it there. “New Jersey has a long history of being a very efficient, fair place for plaintiffs to bring their case, with an excellent judiciary and excellent lawyers who practice in the Mass Tort programs there. It has been an honor and privilege to litigate this case with my fellow PSC members and the outstanding counsel who prosecuted their claims in the program” Millrood said.
“The reason these cases stood out to our firm is that the injuries suffered by these plaintiffs are devastating,” said Millrood. “These were individuals who expected that with a hip replacement they had a really good chance of getting a new lease on life and would be able to resume ordinary living. Instead, they got the double whammy of not being able to resume those activities and also having to experience incredible pain and further surgeries. We were moved by the sheer unfairness that people who had such hope and optimism for their future wound up instead facing very difficult, painful and early revision surgery and rehabilitation and were never able to resume their normal life.”
Pogust Millrood is a plaintiffs’ law firm focusing on pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, as well as other personal injury and discrimination cases. Those interested in further information about the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABGII modular hip implant settlement and a copy of the full settlement agreement are directed to Stryker’s official settlement website at http://www.strykermodularhipsettlement.com/ as well as to the website of the NJ PSC at http://RejuvenateHipSettlement.com.