In closing arguments for the 1st patient injury lawsuit to go to trial against Intuitive Surgical (NSDQ:ISRG) an attorney for the plaintiff painted the medical device maker as a sort of master puppeteer, using a sales model akin to a "car dealership" to manipulate doctors and hospitals.
Attorney Richard Friedman, representing Josette Taylor who accused Intuitive of liability for her husband’s death, told the jury that the company "wanted to do all the training to keep control of surgeons, to keep control of hospitals and keep control of surgeries."
Friedman said that Intuitive Surgical ran its sales "just like a car dealership" in that it tied its service contracts to its sales, Bloomberg reported. The plaintiff is asking for more than $8 million in damages for the death of Fred Taylor, who the lawsuit claims died as a result of medical complications stemming from improper use of Intuitive’s da Vinci robot-assisted surgical system.
An expert witness for Intuitive earlier this month told the jury that Fred Taylor’s death was not the result of his surgery, but that he died from heart disease and that poor lifestyle choices, and not procedure-related complications, were Taylor’s true "death sentence." Attorneys for Intuitive are scheduled to deliver closing arguments tomorrow.
The lawsuit claims Intuitive failed to provide sufficient training for surgeons using the da Vinci robot-assisted surgery system, and that the company pushed doctors to man the technology solo before they were ready. Taylor’s lawsuit is the 1st of a raft of complaints filed against Intuitive over alleged failures to prepare surgeons on the da Vinci system, Intuitive’s flagship technology.
There are at least 25 lawsuits filed, some from patients who claim they were permanently injured and others filed by families of patients who died after undergoing surgery. Taylor’s was the 1st case to go to trial, after an unsuccessful bid by Intuitive to have the case dismissed as "an educational malpractice claim."
Other complaints against Intuitive allege that sales reps pushed hospitals to scale back the expensive and time-consuming programs to train surgeons on the devices, including 1 case in which a sales manager urged reps not to "let proctoring or credentialing get in the way" of procedure volume goals, according to other reports.