Medtronic Lawsuit Judge will not Remove Himself From Case

U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle, who dismissed all federal Medtronic lawsuits filed over the recalled Sprint Fidelis defibrillator lead, has indicated he will not remove himself from the case, despite the possible appearance of bias caused by his son’s law firm representing Medtronic in a number of unrelated matters.

The lawyers for individuals who have filed a Sprint Fidelis lawsuit against Medtronic, asked Judge Kyle to recuse, or remove, himself from the case after they learned that his son was a partner in a Minneapolis law firm, Frederikson & Byron, which has handled a reported $14 billion in “deals” with Medtronic.

When Judge Kyle granted a Motion to Dismiss the defibrillator lead lawsuits against Medtronic on January 5, 2009, his order potentially saved Medtronic millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts they may have been required to pay for selling defective leads that connect cardiac defibrillators to the heart.

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Over 200,000 people have the faulty leads running through the veins connected to their heart to carry a potentially life-saving electrical jolt if needed. However, Medtronic issued a Sprint Fidelis lead recall in October 2007, because the thin wires were found to be substantially more prone to fracture or break than other available leads.

Judge Kyle was assigned to handle all federal Medtronic lead lawsuits, which were consolidated in a multidistrict litigation on February 21, 2008, and centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

According to plaintiffs’ lawyers, they discovered in February 2009 that Frederikson & Byron had a “deep, pervasive and ongoing” relationship with Medtronic, representing them in a number of matters and having several former Medtronic attorneys now working for the firm.

The plaintiffs contended that because Judge Kyle’s son was a shareholder in the firm, a strong presumption exists that the Judge is biased and that he must remove himself from the case because a reasonable person would question his impartiality.

In denying the plaintiffs’ request, Judge Kyle questioned the timing of the Motion, which came only weeks after he took an unfavorable position in dismissing the litigation.

Judge Kyle indicated that given the close relationship between Medtronic and the Frederikson law firm, it was not likely that any ruling the Court may have made would have an impact on the business the firm receives or his son’s financial interests. The Judge’s son, Richard H. Kyle, Jr., is a partner in the firm, but practices criminal defense and has not personally represented Medtronic in any matters.

The Opinion and Order issued by Judge Kyle on March 9, 2009, points to prior cases with similar situations where recusal was not necessary and indicated that the plaintiffs’ position would require judges run conflict searches through any law firms employing any members of their family, which “would cripple the bench.”

Judge Kyle’s decision to grant Medtronic’s Motion to Dismiss in January was based on a Supreme Court decision issued last year, Riegel v. Medtronic, which held that product liability lawsuits against manufacturers of medical devices are pre-empted by federal law if the devices have been approved by the FDA.

In response to the Supreme Court decision, the Medical Device Safety Act of 2009 was introduced last week in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate to protect the ability of consumers injured by medical devices to hold the manufacturer responsible for negligent designs that result in faulty products. If the bill is enacted as law, it is possible that it could restore the Medtronic Sprint Fidelis lawsuits.

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6 Comments

  • tinaSeptember 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I WAS 25 WHEN I RECIEVED MY DEFIBILATOR FROM MEDTRONIC IT SHOCK ME ON NUMOROUS OCCASION WHEN IT WASNT SUPPOSE TO i HAVE FOUR CHILDREN AND IM NOW 29 I REALLY FEEL THAT THE JUDGE SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM THE CASE BECAUSE IF NOT WE WANT HAVE A FAIR TRIAL, ITS NOT RIGHT FOR US NOR OUR FAMILIES AND ITS VERY STRESSFUL WORRYING ABOUT THAT IF YOU GO INTO CARDIAC ARREST WILL THIS THING DO WHAT ITS SUPPOSE TO[Show More]I WAS 25 WHEN I RECIEVED MY DEFIBILATOR FROM MEDTRONIC IT SHOCK ME ON NUMOROUS OCCASION WHEN IT WASNT SUPPOSE TO i HAVE FOUR CHILDREN AND IM NOW 29 I REALLY FEEL THAT THE JUDGE SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM THE CASE BECAUSE IF NOT WE WANT HAVE A FAIR TRIAL, ITS NOT RIGHT FOR US NOR OUR FAMILIES AND ITS VERY STRESSFUL WORRYING ABOUT THAT IF YOU GO INTO CARDIAC ARREST WILL THIS THING DO WHAT ITS SUPPOSE TO DO. i LAY IN BED SCARED JUST ABOUT EVERYNIGHT. tHIS IS SOMETHING I L;IVE TO LIVE WITH FOR THE RST OF MY LIFE I HOPE SOMETHING WILL BE DID ABOUT THIS.

  • ElaineJune 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    My husband died from the device. Its crazy not to hold Metrontics liabile. They don't have to have any quality control or any other company either. Would you want a loved one to have a device without any quality control. I wouldn't think so...

  • johnnyMay 15, 2009 at 9:58 am

    iin my opinion a lawsuit shoud be filed against judge kyle, for a dismissal of medtronics lawsuits,he should have an inplant to see what it is like to walk around every day worriying about if the device will spark,and cause death. allthough the riisk for removal are not great, i would rather not walk around with defective devices in my body.

  • maggieApril 3, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    I am so thrilled that Medtronics stock market shares have went up, due to laws suits being dismissed. Judge Kyle must be a very proud man. I wonder if Judge Kyles son had one of the defective devices implanted in his heart , with no hope for removal, if he would allow the law suit to continue? People wanting help to stay alive got time bombs implanted in thier weak hearts instead and now its whoop[Show More]I am so thrilled that Medtronics stock market shares have went up, due to laws suits being dismissed. Judge Kyle must be a very proud man. I wonder if Judge Kyles son had one of the defective devices implanted in his heart , with no hope for removal, if he would allow the law suit to continue? People wanting help to stay alive got time bombs implanted in thier weak hearts instead and now its whoops! we are sorry.Just suck it up America ! Shame shame shame!

  • Medtronic Updates Doctors on Reports of Sprint Fidelis Lead Deaths - AboutLawsuits.comMarch 16, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    [...] has been assigned to oversee pretrial litigation in all of the federal cases, indicated that the Sprint Fidelis lawsuits will be dismissed based on a recent Supreme Court decision that found medical device product liability claims are [...]

  • LisaMarch 13, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I was told by my doctor that the only risks of this device being implanted would be an infection after surgery. Now I am in constant worry for the rest of my life. I would have not had this device inplanted if I would have known the risk involved, and would have put my life in gods hands. Stress brings on so many other problems. don't you think society already has enough worries to deal with..[Show More]I was told by my doctor that the only risks of this device being implanted would be an infection after surgery. Now I am in constant worry for the rest of my life. I would have not had this device inplanted if I would have known the risk involved, and would have put my life in gods hands. Stress brings on so many other problems. don't you think society already has enough worries to deal with....? This Judge should be removed from this lawsuit.

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