INSIGHTS On Massachusetts Personal Injury Law

Welcome to the SUGARMAN blog. We'll be sharing our perspectives on the state of the law and current legal issues in Massachusetts personal injury law. Issues relating to medical malpractice, construction site injuries, premises liability, product liability, motor vehicle accidents, insurance, and more will all be reviewed here by our team of lawyers who have prosecuted some of the most complex cases in Massachusetts personal injury law.

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The Multi-District Litigation Process for Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II Hip Implants

Under federal law, a federal judiciary panel is empowered to create a Multi-District Litigation (“MDL”) in situations where there are many lawsuits pending in the federal district courts that involve issues of “common fact”. MDLs are typically created in situations, such as the present one involving the recalled Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants, where there are thousands of patients who have been injured by the same defective product. In practice, a patient wishing to be part of the MDL can, through his or her attorney, file an action in the appropriate federal court in the patient’s home state. That case can then be consolidated in the MDL with all of the other pending cases. Once the case is in the MDL, a panel of attorneys conduct discovery (taking depositions, exchanging written questions and answers) that applies to all of the cases in the MDL – there is no case-specific approach. At the end of the discovery, each case will be sent back to the appropriate federal district court to be tried by the patient’s attorney.

MDLs make things more convenient for a corporation facing thousands of lawsuits as a result of a defective product. There are, however, advantages to a patient foregoing the MDL process and, if court rules allow, filing his or her claim in a state court. In the MDL, the attorney that the patient has hired will not be the attorney who is conducting discovery on behalf of that patient. This means an MDL plaintiff, who has presumably chosen an attorney after careful research or upon a highly regarded recommendation from a friend or another lawyer, is in essence relying on an attorney he or she has never met (and never will meet) in order to gather the evidence necessary to prove the case at trial. By being in state court, the patient’s attorney has the ability to request documents and ask questions that may be of significant importance in the patient’s particular claim while still having access to the discovery obtained in the MDL. In addition, all cases filed in the MDL will eventually be remanded to the appropriate federal district court for trial. State courts and federal courts are two every different venues for a plaintiff and both have their own set of rules. Some state court rules may be more advantageous to a patient’s own individual case.

There are situations where the MDL may be preferable to state court or where keeping a claim in state court is simply not possible due to jurisdictional rules. Patients who have been implanted with a recalled Stryker Rejuvenate or ABG II hip system should, however, take a close look at all available options before simply pursuing a claim in the MDL. If you have any questions regarding Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants or the Multi-District Litigation process, please fill out a Contact Form, call one of our personal injury attorneys, Stephen Sugarman or Benjamin Zimmermann, at 617-542-1000, or e-mail ssugarman@sugarman.com or bzimmermann@sugarman.com.