• Pain Pump Manufacturer Obtains Summary Judgment Where Alleged Injuries Not Reasonably Foreseeable at Time of Device’s Use
  • May 21, 2014
  • Law Firm: Sutherland Asbill Brennan LLP - Washington Office
  • The Eighth Circuit affirmed a district court’s grant of summary judgment to the manufacturer of a pain pump inserted into a patient’s shoulder to infuse anesthetic while she recovered from surgery in 2002. The patient brought suit alleging that the pain pump caused chondrolysis (the loss of articular cartilage in a joint) on theories of negligence and strict products liability for failure to warn under Minnesota law. The Eighth Circuit agreed with the district court that based on the medical literature existing at the time of the surgery, it was not reasonably foreseeable to the manufacturer that the use of the pain pump in an articular joint would lead to joint damage.

    Under Minnesota law, the foreseeability of potential harm determines the existence and extent of the manufacturer’s duty to warn. The plaintiff relied on an expert opinion based on 12 articles that existed at the time of the operation showing that continuous exposure of joints to foreign solutions could be harmful to cartilage. But the Eighth Circuit found that the articles did not support the plaintiff’s expert’s opinions such that a jury could determine that they sufficiently should have warned the manufacturer to reasonably foresee the harm that occurred. Accordingly, there was no duty to protect or warn the patient of the harm that the pain pumps may inflict.