Tomorrow the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will hear arguments on motions filed to consolidate all Federal shoulder pain pump litigation before one court for pre-trial proceedings.
A number of product lawsuits have been filed in different federal courts throughout the country against the manufacturers of infusion pain pumps, including DJO, Inc, I-Flow Corp, Breg Inc and Stryker Corp. These cases allege that the intra-articular use of the pain pumps after arthroscopic shoulder surgery causes a severe and debilitating condition known as Post-arthroscopic Glenohumeral Chondrolysis (PAGCL).
Lawyers for the plaintiffs will argue that the shoulder pain pump litigation should be consolidated for discovery and pre-trial motions before one judge. A federal procedure, known as multidistrict litigation or MDL, allows for the consolidation of pending civil cases which have a common background. It is common to see an MDL formed in complex product liability cases, as it allows one judge to over see the cases and avoids inconsistent pre-trial rulings. If the cases do not resolve during the pre-trial proceedings, they would be sent back to the original court they were filed in for trial.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will decide whether the cases should be centralized in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky or the United States District Court for the District of Oregon, as two different plaintiffs have filed motions. The hearing is scheduled for July 31, 2008, at the Phillip Burton U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco, California.
According to the scheduling order posted on the Judicial Panel’s website, there are 14 different shoulder pain pump lawsuits currently pending in federal courts throughout the country. Seven of the cases were filed in the District of Oregon and one case each in the District of Utah, Eastern District of New York, District of Minnesota, Eastern District of Kentucky, Southern District of Indiana, District of Colorado and Northern District of Alabama.
The complaints allege that the pump manufacturers encouraged doctors to use the devices to directly infuse pain medication into the shoulder joint, known as intra-articular use, following post arthroscopic surgery. This is not a use that is approved by the FDA, as it has not been determined to be safe and effective in clinical trials.
Researchers have connected the intra-articular use of the shoulder pain pumps after arthroscopic surgery to the development shoulder chondrolysis, where cartilage in the shoulder deteriorates. This results in extreme pain, limited range of motion and often necessitates a shoulder replacement surgery.
Individuals who develop the shoulder chondrolysis often develop a new onset of pain during the weeks after surgery as they begin to use the shoulder more. Symptoms can include stiffness, pain at motion and at rest, and crackling sounds in the shoulder caused by the lack of cartilage.