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COA: Hip-replacement tort cases must be heard where implants were done

May 30, 2014

Plaintiffs from Mississippi and Virginia may not pursue litigation in Marion County over defective replacement hip devices manufactured in northern Indiana, the Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The panel reversed denial of a motion to dismiss filed by the device makers in Depuy Orthopaedics Inc. and, Johnson & Johnson v. Travis Brown, et al.,  49A02-1304-CT-332, and remanded to Marion Superior Judge John Hanley with instructions to grant dismissal.

The case centers on the ASR XL Acetabular System prosthetic hip implant that was sold and distributed by Warsaw-based Depuy Orthopaedics from 2005 to 2010 and later recalled. Eighteen people who received the implant in surgeries in Virginia and one in Mississippi filed this case in 2012.

Judge Rudy R. Pyle III wrote for the panel that the devices are the subject of multi-district litigation in federal courts, and that the plaintiffs can file elsewhere, but that the trial court erred in denying dismissal on the basis of forum non conveniens governed by Indiana Trial Rule 4.4(C).

Pyle wrote that a conflict-of-laws analysis and Trial Rule 4.4(C)(3) require the case to be heard where the hip replacements were implanted.

“(W)e see no evidence in the record that Virginia or Mississippi are inadequate forums. In fact, during oral argument, the plaintiffs’ desire for trial in Indiana focused on securing an earlier trial date rather than any deprivation of their rights if trial took place elsewhere. There has been no showing by the plaintiffs that trial in their home forum will deprive them of any remedy or subject them to unfair treatment," Pyle wrote.

“We reverse and remand to the trial court for issuance of the appropriate order dismissing this case for refiling in Virginia or Mississippi,” he wrote.

 

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