Sulzer- In re inter-op Hip Prosthesis Product Liability Litigation (Pre-Settlement)

Class Actions — Objections to Proposed Settlements
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The Sulzer hip implant products liability litigation involved an artificial hip that was implanted in about 26,000 patients before it was found to be defective, necessitating removal and replacement in a significant number of patients. Many of the patients who received the implants sued the manufacturer, mostly in state courts. Counsel for the manufacturer and attorneys for a small number of the plaintiffs entered into a proposed class action settlement agreement and sought class certification and approval of the settlement in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. The key feature of the settlement agreement was that it purported to impose a "lien" on all the assets of the defendants that was designed to prevent any class member who opted out of the settlement class from collecting any judgment against the defendants. The district court preliminarily approved the settlement and conditionally certified the class, and issued a nationwide injunction barring all class members from prosecuting their own individual lawsuits. Objecting class members filed appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and Public Citizen filed two amicus curiae briefs in support of those appeals. Unfortunately, the court denied the appeals.