Pacemaker manufacturer sued in St. Clair County

Ann Knef Sep. 19, 2006, 3:53am

An Illinois woman has filed a 40-count personal injury lawsuit against the makers and distributors of a defibrillator/pacemaker she claims was defective and required her to be hospitalized.

Barbara Rios, represented by Seth Sharrock Webb and John Driscoll of Brown & Crouppen in St. Louis, is suing Guidant Corp. of Indiana, Cardiac Pacemakers of Minnesota and Boston Scientific Corp. of Delaware for injuries and economic damages.

According to the suit, Boston Scientific acquired Guidant and its subsidiaries in January 2006, assuming Guidant's liabilities in this litigation.

The suit claims Guidant recalled a number of its pacemaker models between February 2002 and July 2005 because of short-circuiting and sealant deterioration.

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator corrects abnormal heart rhythms by sending small electric signals if the heart beats too slowly (bradycardia). Implantable defibrillator/pacemaker systems also detect and treat abnormally fast heart rhythms (tachycardia).

Rios, who suffers from an undisclosed heart condition, was implanted with a Guidant Model T125 pacemaker on Sept. 15, 2004, but was not aware of its defect until May 24, 2005.

"Defendants actively concealed the defect and its wrongful conduct in order to prevent, and succeeded in preventing, adverse publicity and Plaintiff from discovering the defect," the complaint states.

Rios claims the product she used was defective in design and unreasonably dangerous, did not conform to federal requirements subjecting users to risks of heart attacks, death and other illnesses which exceeded the benefits of the products, and for which other safer products were available.

She also claims the device was not of "merchantable" quality and not safe or fit for its intended use because it was unreasonably dangerous.

Rios is seeking damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of capacity to enjoy life, lost past and future income and incurred expense.

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