McClellan v. I-Flow Corp. – Pain Pump Lawsuit Revived

When we are prescribed a medication or treatment, we have the right to presume those products or drugs are safe when used as intended, and that any inherent risks will be disclosed. shoulder1.jpg

Unfortunately, far too many pharmaceutical companies are in a great rush to get their products on the market in order to turn a profit without thoroughly testing to ensure consumer safety.

One such example has been seen with regard to so-called “pain pumps.” These devices were created with the intention of speeding the healing process by delivering a direct dose of medication (usually painkillers) into areas where surgery had recently been conducted. However, problems have arisen in cases where the pain pumps were inserted directly into the joint space. Not only does it allegedly slow one’s recovery, it could potentially cause permanent injury in the form of chondrolysis.

The condition is otherwise relatively rare, and results in the rapid erosion or deterioration of cartilage cells in a joint. This results in severe arthritis, and it’s usually irreversible.

What our Rock Hill product liability lawyers find especially troubling with allegations made by those who have filed litigation against pain pump manufacturers is evidence the pumps were not approved by the FDA for purposes of direct joint injections, and yet they were marketed to doctors for this purpose anyway.

In the recent case of McClellan v. I-Flow Corp.,, plaintiff will get another chance to have her case heard.

That’s because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered a new trial, finding the district court improperly refused to give a requested jury instruction that it believed was pre-empted by federal law.

The lawsuit had been dismissed by an Oregon jury.

Plaintiff filed the claim after undergoing two surgeries to repair the joint in her shoulder. Following each surgery, she was prescribed a painkiller that was delivered through a device called a “PainBuster.”

After the second surgery, she was diagnosed with chondrolysis of her shoulder. As a result, the cartilage in her shoulder diminished to the point the ball-and-socket of her shoulder has completely fused together. This has left her with zero motion in her shoulder joint, and the condition is reportedly untreatable and permanent.

Plaintiff filed a lawsuit on theories of negligence and strict products liability. She asserted the manufacturer did not warn that its product shouldn’t be used in cases like hers. Further, she alleged the company should be held responsible for selling a product that’s unreasonably dangerous and that lacked adequate warnings.

Trial court declined to give certain jury instructions that might have worked in plaintiff’s favor, finding those instructions were in conflict with the Medical Device Amendments of 1976.

After the jury dismissed plaintiff’s claim, she appealed and the appellate court vacated. Justices ruled the instructions were not in conflict with federal law. Firstly, trial court had relied largely on the 2001 decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Buckman Co. v. Plaintiffs’ Legal Comm. Justices noted that case dealt with fraud alleged against the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, and that was not the case here.

Because the instruction should have been given and failure to do so unfairly prejudiced the plaintiff, the earlier decision was vacated and the case remanded for a new trial.

Contact our South Carolina personal injury lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
McClellan v. I-Flow Corp., Jan. 23, 2015, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

More Blog Entries:
Sadler v. PacifiCare – Actual Injury Established in Medical Error Case, Jan. 22, 2015, Rock Hill Product Liability Blog

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