A jury in Oregon has ordered a medical-device company to pay $4.75 million to a man and his wife in a product liability lawsuit that will have national implications. The jury found I-Flow Corp. liable for destroying the cartilage in the man’s right shoulder, leaving the 38-year-old father of four with constant pain and a disabled arm. He has had a partial shoulder replacement and will face three to five replacements in his lifetime. Although the Plaintiff can still do his job as a commodities broker for Electro Scientific Industries Inc., it’s highly unlikely he will be able to continue in his work until retirement age because of intensifying pain.
I-Flow encouraged surgeons to use a “pain pump,” which delivers pain medication by way of a catheter to the affected spot, in an unapproved and unsafe manner for patients recovering from shoulder-joint surgery. I-Flow and other manufacturers face hundreds of similar lawsuits alleging that such pumps have caused severe cartilage deterioration, called chondrolysis, in patients around the country.
After dozens of reports of chondrolysis, the Food and Drug Administration in November issued a statement clarifying that it has not approved such devices for prolonged infusion of medicine to joints. I-Flow used this case as a test case. It appears the jury has sent the company a message. Hopefully, it will be heard by I-Flow’s bosses as well as other potential victims around the country.
I-Flow had been pushing surgeons to use its pain pump directly in the joint area as a new avenue for making money. It failed to conduct testing or pay heed to safety concerns. This was a most ill-advised marketing decision that led to medical disasters for lots of folks. I-Flow, now part of household goods conglomerate Kimberly-Clark Corp., plans to appeal. Kimberly-Clark bought California-based I-Flow for $325 million late last year.
John Coletli, who is with the Paulson Coletli firm, and Tom Powers, who is with Williams, Love, O’Leavy & Powers, both in Portland, represented the Plaintiffs and they did a very good job.
Source: The Oregonian
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