The Sunnyvale, Calif. robotic surgery maker won a 10-2 verdict in a Washington state court in a case that saw the company accused of sub-par training for its da Vinci device, which was used on a patient who died after a prostate removal surgery in 2008.
The plaintiff’s lawyer Richard Friedman argued that Intuitive was negligent by recommending that surgeons can perform surgery alone after only 1 or 2 supervised surgeries with the da Vinci robot. The device maker, however, claimed that the patient was actually harmed because the patient, Fred Taylor, was morbidly obese and the urologist involved in the surgery ignored specific instructions for obese patients.
In closing arguments, Friedman likened the medical device to a “car dealership” with a sales model designed to manipulate doctors and hospitals.
It wasn’t enough to sway the jury, who voted that Intuitive is not responsible for any damages or suffering to Taylor and his family. However, the company isn’t out of the woods yet, as this is just the first of 26 different lawsuits filed across the country involving the company’s da Vinci robotic surgery device.
The Sunnyville, Calif.-based device maker generates a majority of revenue from its robotic products and news of the victory sent stocks up more than 5% to $497.35 in mid-morning trading on Wall Street Friday.
This is good news for a company recently pummeled on the Street after this month’s news of “micro-cracks” in the curved scissors of da Vinci and a March report that the FDA opened a probe into complication rates with same robot system.
In a related lawsuit, Colorado surgeon Dr. Warren Kortz was accused of 14 counts of unprofessional conduct, some regarding procedures performed with the da Vinci robot-assisted surgical system.