Chicago-area men claim defibrillators had defective batteries in St. Clair County suits

Ann Knef Dec. 12, 2005, 10:45am

Two Chicago-area men filed separate lawsuits against Minnesota-based Medtronics in St. Clair County Nov. 30 over defective batteries in surgically implanted defribillators.

Represented by Seth Sharrock Webb of Brown and Crouppen in St. Louis, Randie Green of Naperville and Anton Muller of Bensenville claim they had their defibrillators removed after reading news reports in February 2005 that the equipment might not function properly.

"Realizing that when the device would be called upon to provide defibrillation it might have failed unknown to plaintiff, plaintiff had the defective device removed and replaced," the complaints state.

The plaintiffs' defibrillators were implanted in December 2003. Green's was removed in March 2005, Muller's on Feb. 24, 2005.

According to the complaints, the models' defective batteries cause the defibrillator to short, resulting in an unpredictable loss of power without warning. The suits also state that approximately 87,000 Medtronic implantable defibrillator/pacemakers are currently in use by patients worldwide.

The 14-count lawsuits claim "in personam" jurisdiction over defendants because they are present in Illinois, "such that requiring an appearance does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice."

Plaintiffs claim venue is proper because defendants marketed, promoted and sold the product in St. Clair County.

The lawsuits are not specific about personal injuries suffered by plaintiffs.

In each case, the complaints simply state that the "plaintiff has been damaged."

"Plaintiff was unaware of the dangerous propensities of the product until well after plaintiff's use and subsequent injuries requiring hospitalization," the complaints state.

The suits allege strict products liability and negligence in defective design, defective manufacturing and failure to warn, as well as statutory consumer fraud.

Medtronics omitted, concealed and suppressed the defibrillator/pacemaker's negative efficacy, the suit alleges.

"Defendants' devices can cause serious physical trauma, injury and/or death, preventing the plaintiff, and plaintiff's health care providers from making informed choices about the implantation of the devices," the complaint states.

"Defendants knew or had reason to know of this tendency and the resulting risk..."


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