Breg Inc., a division of Orthofix International (NSDQ:OFIX), declared victory in the first of a series of pain pump lawsuits to make it to trial.
A Billings, Mont., jury deemed Breg blameless of charges that it manufactured and sold a pump found to be defective and unreasonably dangerous.
The complaint, one of about 75 pending against the Huntersville, N.C.-based company, was brought by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Stuart Davis, who sought more than $6 million in a suit alleging that the Breg pump damaged his shoulder. The damage the pump allegedly cause forced Stuart to have a total shoulder replacement surgery, which in turn compelled him into a lower-paying career as an anesthesiologist, according to a statement from Breg’s lawyers, Bowman & Brooke LLP.
Once the cases consolidate and the terms of the complaints are defined, there will likely be closer to 60 cases, Bowman & Brooke lawyer George Soule told MassDevice.
While the decision doesn’t carry over to any other complaints, the win is encouraging.
"I think it means Breg will stand behind its product and defend its product," Soule said. "Hopefully it’ll be a harbinger of things to come."
The pump allegedly delivered dangerous doses of medication to Davis through an injection directly into his shoulder joint, causing post-arthroscopic glenohumeral chondrolysis, "an irreversible, disabling and extremely painful condition" in which a joint loses almost all of its cartilage, according to the complaint.
After six days of arguments and a day of deliberation, the seven-person jury unanimously found that Breg conformed to the state of the art for pain pumps at the time, ruling that the company could not be held liable despite its determination that Breg was negligent in designing the pump and that the negligence was the cause of injury to Stuart.
Since each case has unique facts and state laws differ, Soule wasn’t ready to make any predictions for the future, but he did say that the next cases coming up this fall will likely be tried in Colorado and Ohio.
"I think people will perceive this as a win," Breg lawyer George Soule told Law360.com (paid). "Each of these cases has individual, unique facts, and I don’t think the jury’s findings on the other issues really have much portability."
And Breg is ready to fight.
"Anybody who would read the transcripts would see Breg has strong defenses to these claims and is willing to defend them in the courtroom," Soule told us.
Orthofix ranked 75th on the MassDevice Big 100 list of the world’s largest medical device companies.