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Pain Pump MDL, Take 2

I-Flow%20Pain%20PUmp-03-25-10%29.pngToday in sunny San Diego, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is hearing plaintiffs’ requests (see our blog post on the December 2009 petition) to convert the individual federal pain pump cases into one MDL, centralized before the District of Minnesota. See page 4 of the Notice of Hearing Session. Right now there are at least 104 federal pain pump cases proceeding in 28 distinct federal courts. The great majority of them are the same in many ways:

  1. A pain pump was -placed into the intra-articular space following open or arthroscopic shoulder surgery.
  2. The pump remained there for approximately 24-72 hours, providing post-surgical pain relief.
  3. The patient, despite physical therapy, continued to have worsening shoulder pain beginning about three months after surgery.
  4. Later x-rays, MRIs, and surgeries show that the patient’s cartilage, located in the glenohumeral joint, has totally wasted away.

The defendants in the pain pump cases are the manufacturers of the pain pumps and, in some cases, the manufacturers of the anesthetic used in the pain pumps. Plaintiffs are proving that the pump manufacturers marketed their pumps to shoulder surgeons, telling them exactly how to place the pump’s catheter into the intra-articular space so the patient received maximum pain relief. However, the manufacturers never told doctors that the FDA denied the procedure three times for lack of safety data. And now, many patients cannot perform their jobs, cannot enjoy basic recreation (swimming, jogging, rock climbing, etc…), and even have difficulties sleeping because of the constant pain of bone-on-bone contact in their shoulder joints.

The goal of the motion (which was brought once before when the pain pump cases were brand new) is to bring the federal cases together before U.S. District Court Judge Tunheim in Minnesota. Judge Tunheim has been overseeing a large proportion of the pain pump cases in a sort of “mini-MDL” for some time, now. He has the experience with pain pump cases and the experience with MDLs to get the job done right. Consolidation would prevent duplicative discovery and make the process of litigation more efficient. It is the right move, so we’re crossing our fingers that the JPML grants the petition.
For more information on Pain Pump lawsuits, contact us at 1.800.553.8082, or click here for an internet consultation.