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Virginia Attorneys > Blog > Medical Malpractice > Medical Device Failure Results In Brain Damage, Jury Verdict

Medical Device Failure Results In Brain Damage, Jury Verdict


A man suffered a severe brain injury when a medical device failed. According to the lawsuit, he was attempting to have a benign tumor removed from his brain, but the laser device broke during the operation. The company that produced the medical device settled with the plaintiff for over $12 million. However, the surgeon that performed the procedure fought the lawsuit filed against him. A Philadelphia jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff for $9.7 million.

During the subsequent trial, the jury decided that the medical device manufacturer was 42% at fault for the lawsuit. This had no bearing on the company’s liability to the plaintiff since they had already settled earlier. The issue matters most to the doctor who blamed the medical device company for the malpractice. However, the jury found the doctor 43% at fault. That means that the total damages award would be reduced by 42%, the liability of the medical device company that had already settled. The rest of the liability was contributed by the hospital.

In this case, the plaintiff recovered $12 million from the medical device company, roughly $4 million from the doctor, and another $1.5 million from the hospital.

What happened? 

During the surgery, the medical device broke. The tip of the laser device broke off releasing pressurized carbon dioxide into the patient’s brain. The patient suffered extensive injuries and has difficulty walking, talking, and maintaining balance. He has since developed a seizure disorder. While the money will be nice, it won’t bring back his quality of life. The plaintiff was a former high school principal and marathon runner.

The medical device company that engineered the device issued a recall in 2016 over a problem related to the device heating up too much and too fast. However, that device was replaced in 2018 and appears to be the device used by the defendant in this lawsuit. While there have not been a number of complaints concerning this device, this recent lawsuit appears to indicate that there might be.

In terms of medical devices, the rules follow the laws of product liability. That means medical device companies tend to be strictly liable when their devices break, malfunction, and cause injury. These devices are regulated by the FDA, but it can be quite easy to get clearance for a medical device that is substantially similar to those already in use, providing companies with an end around the regulatory process.

However, in cases like this, it is not uncommon for the doctor to blame the medical device company and for the medical device company to say that their device operated properly but for operator error. In other words, they blame each other, cloud liability, and then hope for the best.

Talk to a Charlottesville, Virginia Medical Malpractice Attorney Today 

Multiple defendants in medical malpractice lawsuits is not uncommon. If you’ve been injured due to the negligent care of a health clinic, hospital, or doctor, call the Charlottesville medical malpractice attorneys at MichieHamlett today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.




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