I received the Depuy full metal hip transplant and am looking to file claim and sign a retainer with a personal injury law firm. Before doing so I would like to get the opinion of an independent unaffiliated attorney as to if I should consider and try to keep my case separate from that of the class action. My sole reason for thinking that this may be possible is that I had the operation at the age 34. My reason for thinking that this may be a viable reason is that I would think that the majority of recipients of any hip device would be considerably older. I am not a personal injury lawyer, nor a surgeon but before I enter into an agreement I would like to get this information.
Mass action versus class action
Thank you for the question. The lawsuits currently pending against DePuy and Johnson & Johnson are known as a "mass action." The hip implant lawsuits are personal injury cases, and each plaintiff files their own individual case against the hip implant manufacturer. Because causation and damages are individual in nature, personal injury cases like the DePuy hip implant lawsuits are typically done as a "mass" tort. In a mass tort, many people suffer a similar personal injury. Those persons who suffer injury will file individual suits, where you have your own case and possibly your own individual trial.
To conserve judicial resources, mass tort cases often are consolidated before a single court for pre-trial matters, such as discovery. Thus, instead of many courts across the country engaging in the same pre-trial matters for numerous litigants, in a mass action a single court will handle all the pretrial matters for the litigants. Although there is common pre-trial activity in a mass action, when it comes to trial, your case will be handled individually.
Mass tort cases differ from "class actions" because in a "class" action, one or more individuals act as "class representatives." The class representatives file and pursue a single action on behalf of all unnamed individual claimants who are members of the "class." Unlike mass torts, in class actions, injury and damages are uniform across the affected class, and typically there is one court, one case, and one trial on behalf of all class members in a class action.
Litigating your case in a mass action
There are benefits to litigating your case in a mass action. Typically, all hip implant cases against DePuy will be transferred to the federal court handling the pre-trial matters. If your implant is an ASR or Pinnacle, the ASR cases were transferred to the Northern District of Ohio, and the Pinnacle cases were transferred to the Southern District of Texas. If you want to avoid having your case litigated as a mass tort you have to show your case is unique in some way that makes it inappropriate for transfer. I do not believe your age at the time of implant would be enough to do this. While you were young at the time of implantation, certain of the hip implant devices were marketed to younger, otherwise healthy individuals.
I hope this answers your question. We represent clients with the DePuy, ASR and Pinnacle implants. If you have any additional questions, please call or write us.
The above information provided by attorney William Doyle is for general information purposes only. Mr. Doyle cannot provide legal advice for your specific situation through this website. For more information, please contact Mr. Doyle's law firm, Doyle Lowther LLP at 1-888-933-5770.
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