Shoulder Pain Pump Lawsuits Continue to be Filed Despite the JPML Denying the MDL
December 4, 2008
A pain pump is a medical device implanted into the shoulder during arthroscopic surgery to alleviate post-operative shoulder (or knee or ankle) joint pain. It works by infusing pain medication directly into the shoulder through a catheter. If placed into the joint, the pain pump can destroy cartilage, leading to a condition referred to as PAGCL. This is particularly a problem because pain pumps used in surgeries more recently used higher volumes of anesthetics, which can destroy shoulder cartilage. Some pain pump manufacturers applied to the FDA to alter their package inserts to indicate for placement of the pain pump catheter directly into the shoulder joint space but their applications were repeatedly denied. Medical studies in this area focus mainly on pot surgical chondrolysis in shoulders after use of pain pumps but cartilage can also be destroyed in other joints where pain pumps are used such as the knees, ankles, and hips. Patients who have used a post-operative pain pump for these surgeries and experience pain and stiffness beyond the norm for such surgeries or experience a grinding sensation should be evaluated for chondrolysis.
Various lawsuits have been filed around the country by people who suffer from chondrolysis allegedly caused from pain pumps. Many of the lawsuits are filed in federal court, against the manufacturers, wholesalers and drug distributors. A motion was previously made to the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPML) to transfer the cases to a single court. The MDL is captioned In re: Shoulder Pain Pump – Chondrolysis Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1966. The JPML, however, denied the MDL transfer request by order on August 11, 2008, in large part because there were multiple defendants that were not common to each of the filed cases.
As a result of the JPML’s denial of the MDL transfer motion, the lawsuits are spread around the United States, including in federal district courts in the Northern District of Alabama, the District of Colorado, the Southern District of Indiana, the Eastern District of Kentucky, the District of Minnesota, the Eastern District of New York, the District of Oregon, and the District of Utah.
More recently, in November, shoulder pain pump lawsuits were filed by pain pump chondrolysis victims in federal court in the District of Minnesota, the District of Vermont and the District of New Jersey. Many additional cases are still being evaluated by law firms but potential victims are being encouraged to act quickly to pursue their claims so that they do not jeopardize their potential shoulder pain pump lawsuits because of applicable statutes of limitations.
The shoulder pain pump lawsuits filed in federal court in the District of Minnesota and the District of Vermont are against I-Flow Corp. and other defendants. The shoulder pain pump lawsuit that was recently filed in the District of New Jersey is against Stryker Corp., et al. The profiles of the victims are varied. In the three cases filed in November, one plaintiff is only 23 years old. Another one of the plaintiffs is a personal trainer. The common theme among the plaintiffs, however, is that they: 1)underwent a routine shoulder surgery for a torn rotator cuff or arthroscopic surgery; 2) used a post-operative shoulder pain pump to manage the pain (typically for three days or less); 3) and; developed shoulder chondrolysis.
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