Medical Device Maker Ordered to Pay $6.6 Million
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Sep 22, 2017
In July of 2017, a jury ordered medical device maker Olympus to pay a whopping $6.6 million to a hospital in Seattle, $1 million of which was to be allocated to the surviving family members of a patient who died as a result of the company’s negligence. The lawsuit and settlement were the conclusion of a case that began in August of 2013, when Teresa Bigler’s husband, Richard, died as a result of a superbug outbreak at the Seattle hospital. The outbreak, it was later discovered, was tied to duodenoscopes manufactured by Olympus. The story can be read about in more detail online at Medscape.com.
A Win, Or a Loss?
While there is no doubt that a $6.6 million settlement, and, as mentioned above $1 million for the Bigler family, would appear to be a win, Olympus may have gotten off easy. Not only is the sum of money that it was ordered to pay a drop in the bucket for a company that is valued at more than $2 billion, but worst of all, jurors decided that the duodenoscopes designed by the Japanese company were not defective in design. In fact, the design of the device had nothing to do with the jury’s decision, with Attorney Sam Tarry, who represented Olympus, stating, “We are appreciative that the jury recognized Olympus’ duodenoscope design was not unsafe and did not contribute” to the death of the Mr. Bigler.
Instead, the jury verdict was based on the fact that the company did not provide adequate warnings or instructions for use regarding the duodenoscopes. The plaintiffs in the case alleged that the scopes were in fact defectively designed, attempting to prove that a design flaw impeded the ability for the devices to be properly cleaned, trapping bacteria and allowing superbugs to proliferate.
The jury also clearly believed that the hospital was partially to blame–perhaps for using unsafe practices, leading to the spread of the superbug that led to death–resulting in the order that the hospital pay a portion of damages to the family.
More Lawsuits Pending Against Olympus
The good news is that the jury verdict does lay some groundwork for how other claims against Olympus–at least 25 families have sued the company for negligence, fraud, or wrongful death–may be settled. While Olympus may have escaped without having to admit fault for designing a dangerous and defective medical device, they were forced to compensate a family for losses.
Your Rights as a Patient in Philadelphia
Whether you are in Philadelphia or seeking care at a health facility in any other city in the United States, you have the right to be treated with a high standard of care. Not only does this mean that doctors and nurses should act in a manner designed to protect your health, but that you should also be protected from dangerous and defective medical devices.
When a medical device or the negligence of a device manufacturing company and/or healthcare provider leads to harm or death, you have rights. At the law offices of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., our Philadelphia injury attorneys can help you to understand those rights and bring forth a claim. Contact us today to learn more.