Last week we discussed the Jacob v. Mentor Worldwide, LLC case, in which a pro se plaintiff alleged injuries from breast implants and complained that the manufacturer had inadequately warned of the risks. The claim boiled down to an attack on the FDA-approved labeling of a class III medical device, and that meant it was preempted. The court dismissed the case in its entirety, but gave leave to amend. We said we awaited the outcome of further proceedings.
Well, that was dim-witted of us. The opinion we blogged about was from last July. Any decent associate would have Shepardized the case and learned that the plaintiff had, in fact, amended the complaint, and the court did, in fact, dismiss it yet again. (That happened on December 10, 2019.) But in our self-quarantined, self-pitying, terrified news-watching, ice cream-eating state, we dropped the ball. Luckily, the attentive, diligent, victorious, omnicompetent defense counsel folks at Tucker Ellis filled us in on what the medical experts would call the sequelae.
The plaintiff, still acting pro se (you can see where this is going, right?), amended the complaint to allege claims of violation of premarket approval, breach of implied warranty, and lack of informed consent (failure to warn) against the manufacturer. But the pro se doctor plaintiff did not stop there. She also alleged a medical malpractice claim against her doctor, as well as claims against the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASPRS) and the FDA.
Let’s start with the new defendants. The medical malpractice claim was barred by Florida’s medical-negligence four year statute of repose. That four year period precludes lawsuits against medical providers no matter when the plaintiff discovered the alleged negligence. Moreover, the plaintiff had not complied with the pre-lawsuit screening process that Florida requires (as do many other jurisdictions) plaintiffs to go through prior to filing a lawsuit. All of that is just another example of doctors getting much more favorable legal treatment than the smart and kind people who invent the products that allow doctors to do what they do. One would have thought that the pro se plaintiff, who was a doctor herself, might have been aware of these procedural hurdles. But we digress. The cause of action against the ASPRS failed because there was no privity between the plaintiff and that organization, nor was there any causal nexus in sight between the ASPRS and the plaintiff’s injuries. As for the claim against the FDA, there are two words that slam the door shut: sovereign immunity.
The amended claims against the manufacturer weren’t really so amended. The court held that the amendments did “not satisfy the Court’s July 17, 2019 order,” “failed to cure the deficiencies,” and were merely an attempt “to repackage the previously preempted claims.” The ‘new’ claims, at bottom, were still gripes about a failure to warn. That sorry sameness again banged against Riegel and Buckman preemption. This time the court dismissed the case with prejudice.
So at least when we likened the plaintiff to Sisyphus, we weren’t wrong. She pushed the rock, the amended complaint, up a hill, and it rolled right back down. Now we have learned that the plaintiff has filed an appeal with the Eleventh Circuit. It looks to us like yet another push of the rock up the hill.