W&L partner Ellen Relkin and associate attorney Danielle Gold have been appointed by the Court to leadership roles in the Exactech Polyethylene Orthopedic Products Liability Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), which is venued in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Ms. Relkin will be serving as co-lead counsel and Ms. Gold has been appointed to the Science and Experts subcommittee.
“Our leadership team is ready to go, and not a moment too soon,” Ms. Relkin says. “Many hundreds if not thousands of patients across the country have suffered injuries due to defective Exactech implants. A lawsuit cannot undo the significant physical damage our clients have suffered, but we hope compensation can help alleviate some of their financial concerns and help pay for their medical care and treatment.
“Ultimately, we are prepared to take whatever legal steps are necessary to secure justice for our profoundly injured clients,” Ms. Relkin adds.
This Exactech MDL involves numerous product designs and manufacturing elements of the knee, hip, and ankle replacement systems. Because of this, multiple specialized committees have been created and will be headed by Ms. Relkin and an esteemed co-lead colleague.
The two lead counsel attorneys are responsible for developing and managing the overall litigation strategy and engaging in any potential settlement discussions. Each Executive Committee member is overseeing one general area of litigation: hip, knee, or ankle.
Ms. Gold and her four team members on the Science and Experts subcommittee are responsible for gathering and maintaining an updated scientific literature database and will work directly with experts across multiple disciplines.
Back in June, Weitz & Luxenberg took the initiative in petitioning the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate multiple Exactech cases across the country into an MDL and to transfer the cases to federal court in Brooklyn, New York. The JMPL approved this request despite Exactech’s urging transfer to other venues. The MDL is No. 3044 – In re: Exactech Polyethylene Orthopedic Products Liability Litigation.
Exactech has manufactured several primary knee replacement systems made, which include a tibial insert made of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). The original device using this polyethylene insert is the Optetrak, which expanded to include the Optetrak Logic and Truliant devices. These implants have demonstrated unacceptably high failure rates due to premature wear of the polyethene including pitting, shredding, and delamination.
The Optetrak and Truliant knee systems make use of polyethylene tibial insert components, and these components are a subject of the MDL.
Exactech has also manufactured Connexion GXL, AcuMatch, MCS, and Novation acetabular liners, which can be used with several different hip replacement systems made of moderately crosslinked and conventional UHMWPE. Initially, Exactech recalled only one liner model. Just 12 months later, Exactech recalled numerous additional UHMWPE acetabular hip liners.
The company acknowledged specific models had been packaged in defective vacuum bags, which lacked an ethylene vinyl alcohol barrier intended to enhance oxygen resistance. Exactech has acknowledged this defect may make its components more susceptible to oxidation and premature polyethylene wear. One primary ankle replacement system is at issue: Exactech’s Vantage replacement system.
Ellen Relkin has been practicing law since 1985. She was admitted to the Eastern District of New York the following year. She is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Certified Civil Trial Attorney. In 2010, she was appointed co-lead counsel in the DePuy ASR MDL litigation in the Northern District of Ohio. Since then, she has been appointed to numerous leadership roles, such as the New Jersey MCL 296 In Re: Stryker Rejuvenate/ABG II Modular Hip Litigation, New Jersey Multicounty Litigation In Re: Stryker LFit CoCr V40 Femoral Heads Litigation, and In Re: Stryker LFit V40 Femoral Head Products Liability Litigation. She serves as co-lead counsel in the In Re: JUUL Multidistrict Litigation, where she played a key role in negotiating a global settlement announced last week to compensate more than 10,000 Plaintiffs.
Currently, she represents more than 150 individuals who have suffered serious injuries arising from recalled Exactech knee, hip, and ankle components.
Danielle Gold has been practicing in W&L’s Drug and Medical Device Litigation group for more than 9 years. She previously served as a Law Clerk to the former Multi-County Litigation Judge Carol Higbee in Atlantic County, New Jersey, who presided over pharmaceutical and medical device product liability cases. She represents plaintiffs in multiple product liability and MDL actions, many of which involve injuries resulting from failed orthopedic devices.
She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Elmiron MDL and previously served as liaison counsel in In Re: Farxiga Products Liability Litigation. Ms. Gold has been an integral part of W&L’s team focusing on our Exactech litigation. Currently, she is representing more than 150 clients.