We are careful when discussing discovery sanctions, particularly spoliation, for a simple reason. The companies we represent that make medical products tend to have allegations about failing to produce discoverable information in the course of the litigation against them. Indeed, there is a style of litigating against drug and device companies, and other corporate defendants,
Spoliation & Third Party Subpoenas
Someone asked us the other day whether spoliation sanctions could lie against a non-party for alleged loss/destruction of electronically stored information sought through a third-party subpoena. On the one hand, assuming there is personal jurisdiction, the substantive discovery rules do not vary between parties and non-litigants subjected to valid subpoenas. On the other hand,…
C.D. Illinois Rejects Spoliation Claim for Lack of Special Relationship
Last week, we found ourselves focusing on spoliation issues in two different cases, one at the front-end (an early case assessment) and one at the back-end (haggling over jury instructions). The Actos spoliation saga has made any sentient defendant antsy about these things. Thus, it is worthwhile to discuss Moore v. Abiomed, Inc., 20…
Hip Implant MDL Denies Summary Judgment on Claims of Plaintiffs Who Failed to Preserve Explanted Devices
Regular readers of this blog know that we have a pretty jaded view of many MDLs. Obviously consolidation makes sense, at least on paper, in terms of efficiency and the best use of scarce court resources. But, in practice, many MDLs promote a litigation “mob mentality,” in which the merits of individual cases are not important at the outset and, in the world of “settlement inventories” and “mass settlements,” may never draw the scrutiny of the judge or anyone else. Though we continue to hope that “Lone Pine” orders will burgeon and raise the standards for plaintiffs seeking to fly under the radar and await settlement, many MDLs remain “safe havens” for plaintiffs who can’t satisfy the burden of proving their claims.
And a recent decision from the hip implant MDL does nothing to disturb this reality. In that MDL, a longstanding “Explant Preservation Order” requires preservation of hip implant devices removed from plaintiffs during explant surgeries. The order requires plaintiffs to “make good faith efforts to ensure that [medical facilities] preserve” explanted devices and provides options for plaintiffs’ counsel to claim devices within 60 days of explant or, in the alternative, for the devices to be sent to the defendants. It requires all parties to handle explanted devices in accordance with a written protocol or consistent with “methods and practices accepted by those in the field of inspection and testing of orthopedic devices,” to notify each other of devices in their possession before the date of the order, and to make devices available to each other after inspection and testing. All of this, obviously, ensures that the critical evidence in this product liability MDL is preserved and handled in a fair and consistent manner.
In Marquis v. Biomet, Inc., et al., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28465 (N.D. Ind. Mar. 1, 2017), the defendants moved for summary judgment against six plaintiffs. Five of these plaintiffs had had their devices explanted before they filed suit, or after they filed suit but before their cases were transferred into the MDL, and did not know what happened to their devices after they were explanted. The sixth plaintiff had several revision surgeries. During the first, the femoral head of her hip implant was replaced, and she asked for the explanted femoral head. She explained, “I figured I paid for it. I wanted it.” She kept the femoral head in her closet, didn’t disclose on her fact sheet that she had kept it, and didn’t tell anyone she had it until her deposition. The devices explanted during her subsequent surgeries were not preserved.…
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Videotaping Opposing Expert Product Examinations
Recently someone asked the listserv for members of the Product Liability Advisory Council (“PLAC”) whether a plaintiff’s demand for the videotaping of a defense expert’s non-destructive examination of the components of an explanted medical device can be resisted. It seemed like an interesting question, and we like PLAC, so we decided to look for product liability cases where such demands had been made – recognizing, of course, that just as the other side might want to demand this of us, we might also wish, in certain cases, to require the same of the other side.
The brief answer to the question posed is “yes, it can be resisted.”…
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The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same
Not too long ago (March 28, and April 2) we read with interest a couple of articles on 360 that brought back unpleasant memories. The articles discussed congressional inquiries to the FDA (including “pointed questioning” of FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg) about undisclosed (to the public, anyway) meetings between “FDA officials” and the plaintiff’s bar concerning…