A Minnesota federal judge has refused to dismiss a class-action lawsuit against Medtronic, the world’s largest medical technology company, in a case involving defective pacemaker batteries. The lawsuit focuses on batteries that were prematurely losing their charge–an issue that Medtronic apparently did not reveal for six months after learning of the problem in January 2003. According to court papers, after later announcing a recall in 2004, Medtronic provided patients with a free replacement device, but it did not reimburse them for the cost of the defective device or the second surgery. As a consequence of the recall and the surgery, a significant number of patients sued Medtronic for physical and emotional injuries associated with the defective defibrillators.

In Kinetic Co. v. Medtronic Inc., a self insured employer who had to pay for replacement surgery for one of its employees is suing Medtronic for among other things breach of warranty, deceptive trade practices, and consumer fraud. The judge rejected Medtronic’s argument that a third party payors such as self-insured employers can’t go after reimbursement for medical expenses. In sending the case to trial, Judge James Rosenbaum wrote on December 4 that our “present health care regime almost always requires third party payors to shoulder a significant portion of the employees’ costs of medical services. To deny this fact, and to extract legal conclusions from the denial, denies reality, and real financial injuries occurring in the real world….Kinetic paid for the original installation of its employee’s medically required defibrillator. It did so under its employer supplied health payment plan. But when it did, it ostensibly paid for a properly functioning defibrillator, with an expected lifecycle. It got, instead, a defibrillator with a potentially early discharging battery, which might subject its employee to a catastrophic risk.”

Separately, California Attorney General Jerry Brown has subpoenaed a wide range of documents from Medtronic’s cardiac unit. The subpoena covers sales information, clinical trial records and other any financial arrangements with healthcare providers. Earlier this year, New Jersey’s attorney general served the company with a similar legal demand.

If you have been implanted with a Medtronic pacemaker that has been recalled, do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at the Law Offices of Richard J. Serpe, P.C. for a no-obligation consultation about your legal rights, Toll Free 877-544-5323.


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