Judicial Changes in Minnesota Due to COVID-19

As America watches the Minnesota criminal trial of Derek Chauvin, we have all noticed changes in the courtroom due to the COVID-19 pandemic–such as the large amount of plexiglass. In a recent Law360 interview, the District of Minnesota’s Chief Judge John Tunheim discussed the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the judicial process and how those changes may continue beyond the pandemic. 

Chief Judge Tunheim explained during the interview that the District of Minnesota will continue holding Zoom trials for civil court cases even after the pandemic restrictions are lifted due to the multitude of benefits the court has seen. Those benefits include relieving the backlog of criminal trials, allowing trials to proceed despite the unpredictable Minnesota weather, and ensuring that jury pools more accurately reflect a diverse cross-section of the community. 

Minnesota’s Virtual Civil Courts

Chief Judge Tunheim explained that in the District of Minnesota jury trials and in-person hearings will resume on May 3, 2021 after jurors return on May 1. However, Chief Judge Tunheim said that he, along with many other judges, will still do as many hearings and bench trials as possible via Zoom — partly in order to decrease the amount of people coming to the courthouse. 

However, Chief Judge Tunheim noted that Minnesota will likely not get to its plethora of civil cases right away due to the substantial backlog of criminal trials. Currently, only two courtrooms are being used for in-person court proceedings–one in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul. This obviously makes it difficult to expedite the judicial process. Chief Judge Tunheim hopes to clear out the backlog of criminal trials by using Zoom for civil trials. 

The master trial calendar from May 3 until the end of December 2021 states that there will only be two cases tried at a time and priority will be given to criminal cases since criminal cases cannot be tried virtually. However, Chief Judge Tunheim is hopeful that later in the summer access to the courts will have expanded, allowing more courtrooms to open. This is largely dependent on how comfortable jurors feel about sitting next to each other. 

For all civil trials, the court is offering the option for a virtual civil jury using Zoom. It is only an option–not an obligation. However, judges are strongly encouraging lawyers to agree to a virtual jury trial.

Pros and Cons of Virtual Civil Trials

Chief Judge Tunheim emphasized the convenience and decreased costs of virtual trials. For instance, attorneys and witnesses do not have to fly across the country and pay for transportation and lodging to participate in the trial. This can result in trials occurring faster. However, there is extra work involved in virtual trials such as making sure that all jurors have access to the necessary technology, making sure that they have a stable Internet connection, making sure that they are comfortable using the technology, and having a courtroom deputy serve as a jury minder during the trial to assist the virtual civil jury. 

It is important to note that authority has not been given to conduct criminal trials virtually, and so virtual trials only apply to civil cases. Currently, there is a criminal case backlog of 20 to 25 criminal cases pending in the District of Minnesota and 30% of criminal defendants have not authorized videoconferencing for their hearings (pretrial hearings, change of pleas and sentencing hearings). An estimated half of those 20 to 25 cases will go to trial. Chief Judge Tunheim explained that there is a larger number of civil cases in the backlog because a firm trial date is a very important part of the settlement process, and it is currently unclear when most trials will occur.

Virtual Civil Trials After the Pandemic?

Chief Judge Tunheim cited the non-pandemic related benefits of virtual civil trials such as being able to try cases during the unpredictable Minnesota winters, less expensive lodging and transportation costs for jurors, lawyers, and witnesses, a better cross-section of the community being represented in jury pools, and allowing a broader public audience to see the judicial system in action. 

Zoom trials allow juries to encompass a broader portion of the community because the virtual alternative eliminates a lot of the reasons jurors may have been unable to participate before such as having children at home, running a small business, having farm duties, living multiple hours away, or using a wheelchair. 

Chief Judge Tunheim emphasized that the state of Minnesota has purchased technology equipment to make sure that all jurors have access to the necessary technology, know how to use it, and have a stable Internet connection.

GoldenbergLaw

Our team at GoldenbergLaw has been helping clients achieve the Gold standard of advocacy for more than 30 years. Contact GoldenbergLaw today and leave the sleepless nights to us!

Partner Noah Lauricella Appointed to PSC in Zimmer M/L Taper Hip MDL

GoldenbergLaw Partner Noah Lauricella has been appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) in the Zimmer M/L Taper hip multidistrict litigation (MDL). The appointment proposal was signed by Judge Paul A. Crotty on March 2, 2021 for the U.S. District Court’s Southern District of New York.

Partner Noah Lauricella

About Noah Lauricella

Noah Lauricella has extensive experience in providing the Gold standard of advocacy for clients and has been with GoldenbergLaw since 2014. His experience in dangerous medical devices and defective drugs and supplements includes Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft, ASR Hip Implants, Infant Tylenol, Risperdal, Topamax, Rolaids, DePuy Attune knee implants, surgical staplers, Stockert 3T heater cooler devices, Granuflo, Naturalyte, Tasigna, and Bair Hugger warming devices. His product liability expertise includes talcum powder, asbestos-containing products, lead poisoning, forklifts, scissor lifts, garage doors, and contaminated food. Noah also works on automobile and truck collisions in addition to construction accidents.

Zimmer M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis and Versys Femoral Heads

Zimmer M/L Taper and Zimmer M/L Taper with Kinectiv Technology hip implants are designed to precisely fit patients through several components including a neck piece, femoral stem, and artificial head. The neck piece and the femoral stem are placed inside the patient’s femur. The neck piece is connected to an artificial head. Unfortunately, the connection point between the pieces of the artificial hip can cause complications due to the parts being made of metal. The subsequent device failure can be due to corrosion and metal wear at the neck-stem intersection requiring a revision surgery. 

The Zimmer lawsuits involving the M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis, the M/L Taper Prosthesis with Kinectiv Technology and the Versys Hip System Femoral Head were combined into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in October 2018. The MDL is venued in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under Judge Paul A. Crotty.

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GoldenbergLaw is currently investigating Zimmer M/L Taper cases and other defective hip replacement cases. If you or a loved one has been harmed after a defective hip replacement, contact GoldenbergLaw today. 

Senior Partner Stuart Goldenberg Appointed to PSC in Wright Profemur Hip Implant Litigation

GoldenbergLaw’s Senior Partner Stuart Goldenberg was appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) in the Wright Profemur Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation. District Court Judge Kristine G. Baker appointed Stuart Goldenberg on February 9, 2021. The litigation occurs in the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Arkansas. 

Senior Partner Stuart Goldenberg

About Stuart Goldenberg

Stuart Goldenberg has more than three decades of experience providing the Gold standard of advocacy for his clients. In addition to the Wright Profemur litigation, Stuart Goldenberg has previously served on the Plaintiff Steering Committees in the Bard IVC Filters and the Benicar Products Liability litigations. Stuart has extensive experience litigating dangerous medical devices and defective drug supplements such as Dalkon Shield IUD, Copper-7 IUD, DES, breast implants, Fen Phen, Vioxx, Bextra, Celebrex, Mirapex, YAZ birth control, Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft, ASR hip implants, Stryker Rejuvenate hip implants, Biomet hip implants, Wright Medical hip implants, Pinnacle hip implants, Zimmmer Durom cup hip implants, V40 hip implants, Zimmer Persona knee implants, and DePuy Attune knee implants. He also has extensive product liability experience including cases involving saws, shredders, tools, conveyor systems, presses, cranes, bucket trucks, tires, heavy machinery, garage doors, springs, bolts, metal fatigue, molding machines, lathes, sanders, factory equipment, forklifts, two-wheelers, bicycles, washing machines, dishwashers, lamps, and medical equipment. 

Stuart has litigated thousands of auto, motorcycle, and truck collision cases. He also has experience in construction accidents and premises liability cases such as the 35W bridge collapse, parking lot collapses, hotel fires, gas explosions, deck collapses, defective gutter systems, furnace explosions, grill explosions, and defective stairways. He also has experience with medical malpractice lawsuits including birth injuries, infections, prescription errors, Stevens Johnson Syndrome and TENS, failure to diagnose cancer, and amputations. Additional areas of experience include insurance disputes, complex litigation, alcohol beverages / dram shop cases, toxic exposure, and food liability cases.

Wright Profemur Hip Device Litigation

Approximately 500,000 hip replacement surgeries occur every year in order to increase mobility and decrease pain in patients. However, several types of hip devices can actually cause harm. For instance, hip devices with components designed with metal-on-metal interfaces can result in metal wear, the release of metal into the body, and the degradation of the artificial hip leading to fracture. These dangerous complications can result in revision surgeries and long-term side effects. 

Wright Profemur Hip devices have been used in hip replacement surgeries since the early 2000s. Unfortunately, the hips have been linked to complications such as femoral neck fracture, corrosion and fretting, pain, instability, and revision surgeries.  

In August 2020, the panel of federal judges on the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated the Wright Profemur hip lawsuits into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Arkansas under Judge Baker.

Contact Us

GoldenbergLaw has provided the Gold standard of advocacy for over thirty years and we are here to help you with your potential hip device lawsuit! If you or a loved one has been harmed after being implanted with a defective hip device, contact GoldenbergLaw today and leave the sleepless nights to us.