Washington Hip Implant Claims Have Been Consolidated Into One Case

Person holding their lower back

A Washington State judge ruled for plaintiffs in defective hip implant litigation by consolidating their cases into a single case in King County Superior Court. The defendant, Depuy Orthopedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, had argued the cases were not similar enough to consolidate them.

Consolidation Similar to MDL

Judge Brian M. McDonald’s actions are similar to a multi-district litigation (MDL) in which related federal civil cases are transferred from different jurisdictions to one judge who presides at the pretrial hearings, according to 28 U.S.C. § 1407. Courts can rule to consolidate cases that share common facts, and for the parties’ and witnesses’ convenience. The judge must also find that the cases will proceed more efficiently than if they are tried separately because duplication of discovery is eliminated and resources are conserved. Inconsistent pretrial rulings are also avoided.

Commonality in the Individual Cases

Judge McDonald determined that all five plaintiffs share numerous common facts. They all pleaded the same cause of action: that they were implanted with DePuy metal-on-metal hip replacements and suffered similar injuries and a compromised quality of life. They all had planned to call the same expert witnesses to testify that the hip implant caused their injuries. Furthermore, all five surgeries occurred in Washington State in 2009.

J&J’s Response

Johnson & Johnson initially tried and failed to get two of the cases remanded to federal court. In its response to the plaintiff’s request for consolidation, J&J argued the plaintiffs have only one fact in common, which is a desire to hold DePuy responsible for injuries they allege were caused by its Pinnacle Metal-on-Metal hip replacement. J&J argued that there are no other claims of commonality, claiming they are instead “highly varied” and that consolidating the cases is unreasonable.

Judge McDonald’s Conclusions

After considering the plaintiffs request and the defendant’s response, Judge McDonald issued six conclusions:

  • The plaintiffs’ causes of action, defendant, and injuries are the same, with injuries by the same product and the intent to call the same expert witnesses to substantiate their claims
  • A Texas federal district court had already consolidated cases related to the same defective hip implant; and even though one case from the Texas consolidation was challenged, the challenge was unrelated to consolidation
  • J&J’s argument that the courts should anticipate separate evidentiary circumstances does not support the defendant’s pleading that the cases should be tried separately
  • The court is unmoved by J&J’s argument that consolidating the cases will prejudice and confuse a jury
  • Consolidating the cases after finding common factual and legal issues is the rational, better path that ensures an efficient process
  • There is plenty of time before a trial date to separate the cases if they develop in a way that makes consolidation irrational

The trial date has not yet been set. The five plaintiffs whose defective product cases have been consolidated are: James Collins, William Metcalf, John B. Shattuck, Leta Sperry, and Linda Yahne.

Personal injury cases involving hip implants or other defective medical devices will usually require asking the hospital for medical records. National Record Retrieval specializes in making the process simpler and quicker. Call us for more.