Pain Pump Manufacturer Prevails on Summary Judgment

In Mack v. Stryker Corp., the plaintiff instituted a product liability action that alleged a pain pump was defective and caused her to develop a painful shoulder condition. The defendant-manufacturer filed a motion for summary judgment, which argued the case should be dismissed because it was not foreseeable that the use of the pump would lead to joint damage. A federal court in Minnesota agreed and dismissed the plaintiff’s claim. 

The Eighth Circuit affirmed even though the plaintiff provided expert testimony from an orthopedic surgeon who opined existing medical knowledge indicated the product was harmful. The appellate court essentially disregarded this expert opinion because the pertinent literature failed to establish the alleged defect was foreseeable to the manufacturer.

This case is a perfect example of the old adage that manufacturers are not the insurers of the products they sell. In jurisdictions where negligence principles are applicable to strict liability matters, a plaintiff will be unable to establish a prima facie product liability claim if she cannot prove the alleged defect was reasonably foreseeable.

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