Covidien and Ethicon Surgical Staplers Litigation

Today’s surgeons rely more on surgical staplers as an alternative to stitches and sutures due to the increased speed and ease of use provided by the devices. Ethicon and Covidien Surgical Staplers can misfire during a surgery and cause serious injuries.  Thousands of surgery patients have reported serious injuries regarding the surgical staplers during gastrointestinal tract surgeries such as: colon cancer, diverticuli and weight loss surgeries to link sections between body parts such as the intestines and stomach.  Misfiring of the device may lead to incomplete staple lines and malformed staples.

Due to the frequency of the misfires, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a Class 1 recall and reported the following risks associated with the defective staplers: 

  • Bleeding
  • Tearing of organs and internal tissue
  • Development of anastomotic leaks
  • Sepsis 
  • Increased risk of cancer recurrence
  • Multi-organ failure
  • Fistula formation 

As a result of these injuries, patients may require additional surgeries, including an ostomy bag (an external pouch to collect body waste).  Many times, patients are forced to return to the operating room for an unplanned, emergency repair surgery.  Other patients may be released from the hospital only to return a few days later once symptoms arise for emergency surgery.

Who are the manufacturers of Covidien and Ethicon Surgical Staplers? Covidien is a subsidiary of Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) which has a market cap of $152 billion.  Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is a parent company of Ethicon boasting a market cap of $384 billion.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed on behalf of patients hurt by the malfunctioning staplers.  Some of the lawsuits have gone to trial and led to sizable verdicts against the defendants.  The most prominent among them was a California case that ended up with the plaintiff being awarded $80 million, including $70 million in punitive damages against Ethicon.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by defective Ethicon or Covidien Surgical Staplers, please call the Mass Tort Team at Inserra Kelley Sewell to see whether you might be entitled to compensation.

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