In re Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation (MDL No.2775)
In this litigation, various plaintiffs have made products liability claims against Smith & Nephew, Inc., a medical technology company based in the United Kingdom. The plaintiffs allege injury due to complications arising from Smith & Nephew’s hip resurfacing system, known as the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) system. In general, hip resurfacing is a procedure in which the ball-shaped bone at the top of the thigh is trimmed and resurfaced with a smooth metal covering while damaged bone and cartilage within the hip socket is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The BHR system uses a cobalt-chromium alloy for both parts; according to the plaintiffs, this “metal-on-metal” design caused cobalt and chromium ions from the implants to migrate into surrounding tissues, resulting in adverse symptoms like pain, metallosis, and bone and tissue necrosis.
Lawsuits related to Smith & Nephew’s hip implants have been filed in a variety of district courts. Actions relating to the BHR system components in particular were consolidated in the District of Maryland in April 2017. These lawsuits share factual questions concerning the design, manufacture, marketing, or performance of the BHR system. For that reason, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation concluded that consolidation would be more convenient for the parties and witnesses involved and would promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation. Recently, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation added a Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA) track to the MDL. THA devices are comprised of BHR and non-BHR components and lead to many of the same injuries caused by BHR devices. Combined, the BHR and THA cases involve more than 350 pending cases.