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October 2018

Bay Area Drug & Medical Device Team Prevails in Multiple Cases in a String of Pre-Trial Victories

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Bay Area partners Brian J. Mooney and James K. Holder recently obtained pre-trial victories in a string of cases on behalf of medical device manufacturers in product liability litigation cases.

PTCA Interventional Wire. On October 2, Mooney and Holder won summary judgment on the eve of trial in an action brought in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana against the manufacturer of an FDA-cleared coronary guide wire used in percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA) procedures. The plaintiff, a former mayor and police chief in a small rural Louisiana town, alleged that the coronary guide wire used during his PTCA procedure suffered from a manufacturing flaw and a design defect which caused the guidewire to fracture during the procedure -- a three-inch portion of wire still remains lodged in the patient’s left ventricle. The plaintiff claimed extensive damages for medical expenses, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. Both sides had retained failure analysis and metallurgy experts, and had conducted extensive fact and expert discovery leading up to the trial. Nevertheless, and despite the “battle of the experts” that the plaintiff was hoping to rely on to get to the jury, the court ultimately granted the defense’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiffs’ expert evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to create a triable issue of fact as to whether the subject guidewire suffered from any product defect, and a lack of sufficient evidence that any purported defect was the proximate cause of the event at issue, resulting in a complete dismissal of the firm’s client.        

Ophthalmic Laser. Mooney and Holder also recently won summary judgment in a medical device case filed in New York state court against the firm’s client, a manufacturer of FDA-approved ophthalmic excimer laser systems used in the performance of laser vision correction procedures. The plaintiff, a court reporter, alleged that the ophthalmic excimer laser system used during her LASIK procedure malfunctioned during the procedure, resulting in injuries to the plaintiffs’ eye and diminished vision for which the plaintiff sought extensive damages.  Mooney and Holder, assisted in the case by New York partners Robert Modica and Joseph Salvo, utilized key treating surgeon depositions and expert discovery to establish that the ophthalmic laser system functioned properly during the plaintiff’s procedure, and that the plaintiff’s injuries were the result of a well-known but rarely occurring potential side-effect of the procedure. Mooney and Holder thereafter filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that there was no evidence that the product malfunctioned on the date of the plaintiff’s surgery and the plaintiff’s claims were also preempted by the FDA’s premarket approval of the excimer laser system. The New York court agreed with Gordon & Rees' arguments, and granted summary judgment for the firm’s client on all claims. 

Elbow Implant. Mooney and Holder also won a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois in a medical device lawsuit filed against the firm’s medical device manufacturer client, a manufacturer of elbow replacement devices. The plaintiff, an Illinois resident who received an elbow replacement device which subsequently fractured several years postoperatively, brought a product liability lawsuit against the firm’s client in Illinois state court, despite the fact that the firm’s client and the location of the surgeries at issue took place elsewhere.  Mooney and Holder, with the valuable assistance of Gordon & Rees's Chicago office Associate Tyler Duff,  successfully removed the case to federal court and thereafter obtained a dismissal of the case on a series of 12(b) motions to dismiss for a lack of specific personal jurisdiction. The case was the first case in the Central District of Illinois to address Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017),  and the court correctly dismissed the action based on that Supreme Court precedent.      

Tyler Duff
James K. Holder
Brian J. Mooney
Joseph Salvo