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Suit to continue after late discovery of faulty medical device

From time to time, West Virginia patients discover an implanted medical device is faulty. When that happens, the injured party may be entitled to file a products liability claim against the manufacturer of that product, and possibly other parties as well, for any damages the faulty medical device caused. Even if the time limit for the filing of such a suit has passed, an exception may be possible to allow the lawsuit to go forward.

For instance, as part of a man's shoulder surgery, a pain pump manufactured by Stryker Corp. was installed in the patient. He expressed concern to his surgeon that the pain was not subsiding after the procedure. However, he was told the pain he was feeling was not unusual. As the years passed, the issues the man experienced after the surgery persisted. Accordingly, he went to another physician on May 27, 2009.

That doctor told the patient that the pain pump was linked to the further degeneration of the cartilage in his shoulder to the point where none of the articular cartilage was left. The man filed suit against Stryker Corp. in the U.S. District Court for Southern Texas, but the case was dismissed based upon a determination that the statute of limitations had expired. A federal appeals court reversed the lower court's decision to dismiss the case, holding that the patient was entitled to the chance to argue for an exception.

Sometimes, it is not clear that a West Virginia patient received a faulty medical device until years later. This discovery could come after the expiration of the statutory time limit for filing a products liability lawsuit. However, this fact does not necessarily lead to an automatic dismissal of a claim. If the plaintiff can prove that he or she could not have known the product was faulty within the timeframe provided for filing a lawsuit, an exception could be granted allowing the claim to proceed.

Source: MassDevice, Appeals court deals Stryker a blow in pain pump lawsuit, Brad Perriello, Jan. 8, 2014

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