Breg Shoulder Pump Lawsuit Dismissal in Florida Upheld on Appeal

A federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a Breg shoulder pain pump lawsuit brought by a Florida man who alleges that the disposable infusion pump caused permanent and debilitating cartilage damage when it was used after arthroscopic shoulder surgery. 

The shoulder chondrolysis lawsuit was filed by Douglas C. Kilpatrick against Breg, Inc. It was originally scheduled as one of the first shoulder pain pump cases to go to trial before it was dismissed by a federal judge in July 2009.

Kilpatrick appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, but on August 12, the court upheld the dismissal, ruling that the lower court did not abuse its discretion in excluding expert witness testimony that was necessary for the plaintiff to establish causation between the pain pump and shoulder cartilage damage.

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Kilpatrick’s lawsuit is just one of more than 100 brought by individuals throughout the United States who claim that shoulder pain pumps made by Breg and a number of different manufacturers cause shoulder chondrolysis. The painful and debilitating shoulder condition involves a progressive loss of cartilage, which often results in the need for a complete shoulder replacement.

Breg manufactures a pain pump that was used to deliver pain medication via a joint space catheter over a 48-hour period after Kilpatrick’s arthroscopic shoulder surgery. The complaint alleged that the device damaged the cartilage in Kilpatrick’s shoulder, resulting in a shoulder replacement surgery and chronic pain.

Similar pain pumps from other manufacturers, including Stryker Corp., I-Flow Corp., DJO Inc., DePuy, Inc. and Smith & Nephew, Inc., have been linked to cartilage damage after arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

Studies have found that the intra-articular use of the shoulder pain pumps is associated with the development of shoulder chondrolysis, a regenerative disease that causes loss of cartilage in the joint. Symptoms of the condition include a decreased range of motion, pain, as well as popping and grinding of the joint, which tend to develop during the months after use of the pain pump as use of the shoulder increases following the arthroscopic surgery.

In January 2010, an Oregon jury awarded $4.75 million to a plaintiff who filed an I-Flow shoulder pain pump lawsuit over the On-Q Painbuster. According to prior reports, I-Flow shoulder pain pump settlements have been reached in a number of cases.

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