14 plaintiffs file complaint against pacemaker manufacturer

Ann Knef Jun. 27, 2007, 3:00am

Fourteen persons with heart conditions filed a 39-count product liability lawsuit against the makers and distributors of defibrillators/pacemakers they claim were defective and required them to be hospitalized.

Represented by Seth Sharrock Webb and John Driscoll of Brown & Crouppen in St. Louis, the plaintiffs are suing Guidant Corp. of Indiana, Cardiac Pacemakers of Minnesota and Boston Scientific Corp. of Delaware for injuries and economic damages.

The suit claims Guidant recalled a number of its pacemaker models between February 2002 and June 2006 because of short-circuiting and sealant deterioration.

The plaintiffs claim the defendants actively concealed product defects in order to prevent adverse publicity. They also claim they were unaware of the dangerous propensities of their pacemakers/defibrillator until well after they used them.

From Illinois, plaintiffs include Harold Allen, Joe Ellis, Gloria Craig, Irene Finklea, Leterious Hall, Mary Lanham and Raymond Tavison, Sr. Other plaintiffs include Ronald Pearce and Frederick Sheely of Indiana, Verle Kuehn, Diosdado Nebres and Randall Roscamp of Washington, Marcus Browning of Alabama and Jerry Stamp of New Mexico.

The suit filed June 15 in St. Clair County, is at least the third such complaint filed by the Brown & Crouppen firm against these corporations which make products that treat cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure and coronary disease.

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

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).

The plaintiffs claim the products used were 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.

They also claim the devices were not safe or fit for their intended use because they were unreasonably dangerous "and incapable of satisfying the ordinary purpose for which they were intended, because they caused serious injury to plaintiffs..."

Plaintiffs are 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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