Medtronic’s Bid to Dismiss Lawsuits Denied

Minneapolis-based Medtronic, manufacturers of a controversial implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), had their motion for summary judgment denied in U.S. District Court, meaning that the company may still have to face personal-injury lawsuits regarding their allegedly faulty product. The company announced its intention to appeal the decision, which was made by Judge James Rosenbaum in Minneapolis District Court.

Medtronic is currently facing hundreds of lawsuits associated with battery malfunctions in their defibrillators, and the denial of their motion may clear the way for another round of legal action. In some cases, the batteries, which were designed to last for years, only lasted for a few days. Medtronic reported in February of 2005 that the devices were susceptible to “rapid battery depletion” due to a “shorting mechanism.” The problem relates to ICDs manufactured between April 2001 and December 2003.Thousands of patients have had to undergo a second surgical procedure in order to remove and replace the device.

The devices in question are used in patients at risk for life-threatening heart-rhythm problems or advanced heart failure. According to Medtronic, “ICDs shock or pace the heart into normal rhythm after patients suffer rapid, life-threatening heart-rhythm disturbances originating in the lower chambers of the heart that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).” However, the battery problems put the devices at risk of sudden failure.

The models under suspicion include: Marquis VR 7230, Marquis DR 7274, Maximo VR 7232, and Maximo DR 7278. At the time of the initial warning, Medtronic owned approximately half of the ICD market.

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