Cozen O’Connor: Cozen O’Connor Life Sciences Team Secures Summary Judgment for Global Medical Device Manufacturer

Cozen O’Connor Life Sciences Team Secures Summary Judgment for Global Medical Device Manufacturer

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jill Caughie secured a summary judgment from the District Court of the Western District of Kentucky in a factually complicated and contentious pain pump case that has been in active litigation for over four years.

Our client manufactured the subject pain pump. Plaintiff was a former horse jockey who received the pain pump following shoulder replacement surgery for an injury she sustained when she fell from a horse.  During the surgery, the surgeon affixed a pump that continuously injected anesthetic medication into her shoulder for up to 48 hours.  Plaintiff alleged she later developed chondrolysis, a degenerative cartilage condition, and attributed the permanent damage to the use of the anesthetic infusing pain pump. Plaintiff’s causation experts opined that the pain pump was a substantial contributing cause of her condition.  Plaintiff also hired a FDA regulatory expert who opined that the device manufacturer should have researched and conducted its own testing prior to selling the pain pump and, by not doing so, breached its regulatory responsibilities and caused plaintiff’s damages.

Plaintiff brought her claims in strict liability, negligence, breach of express and implied warranties, misrepresentation, and fraud, claiming that the defendant designed, manufactured, distributed and sold the pain pump used in her surgery and that the pain pump was unreasonably dangerous.  Plaintiff further alleged that the defendant failed to warn of the pain pump’s dangerousness in either a negligent or fraudulent manner. Because her former profession as a horse jockey in Kentucky had been lucrative and the case was to be tried only a few miles from Churchill Downs, the potential for a high verdict was a concern.  Additionally, millions of dollars have been recovered by plaintiffs, through trial and settlements, in numerous other pain pump cases.

After extensive discovery including expert witness depositions, the Cozen O’Connor team expertly navigated the court through the dense factual and legal analysis (including issues pertaining to state of the art, FDA approval and what the court described as the “medical complexities of the case”) in a comprehensive motion for summary judgment.  The team also prepared a motion to exclude plaintiff’s controversial FDA expert, Dr. Suzanne Parisian, who anchored the plaintiff’s claims against the client.

Following the hearing, the court issued a 23-page memorandum opinion adopting all of Cozen O’Connor’s arguments, granting the defendant’s summary judgment motion, and dismissing all of plaintiff’s claims with prejudice.