Surgical device manufacturer faces products liability claim over injuries sustained in botched prostate cancer surgery

By Jon Campisi | Aug 21, 2013

Lawyers representing a California-based manufacturer of surgical devices

Lawyers representing a California-based manufacturer of surgical devices

have filed a petition to transfer a products liability action initiated against the company and others from state to federal court.

The attorneys, from Philadelphia-based Goodell, Devries, Leech & Dann, and the Washington, D.C. firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, filed their removal notice on Aug. 19 at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Counsel for Intuitive Surgical Inc. contend that the matter belongs in federal court, not the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, for various reasons, including that the amount of damages sought by the plaintiffs is expected to exceed the jurisdictional limit in a Pennsylvania state court.

The plaintiffs, Michael and Roseann Grasso, of Manahawkin, N.J., are suing Intuitive Surgical, as well as Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Jefferson University Physicians, and Jefferson Urology Associates over injuries Michael Grasso allegedly sustained after undergoing prostate cancer surgery in late September 2010.

The record shows that a DaVinci Robotic Surgical device manufactured by Intuitive Surgical malfunctioned during the procedure, causing the operation to last longer than anticipated.

The plaintiff ended up having to undergo numerous additional surgeries and he experienced complications due to the allegedly defective product.

The lawsuit says that Michael Grasso sustained bleeding caused by the device’s malfunction, bladder spasms, “unbearable pain,” nerve damage, bladder blockage, anxiety, depression, lower extremity injuries, prolonged hospitalizations and rehabilitation, loss of chance for full recovery and other injuries.

The suit contains counts of strict product liability, negligence, negligent training and proctoring and negligent certification, fraud, breach of warranty, unjust enrichment and loss of consortium.

The plaintiffs are being represented by attorney Derek R. Layser of the Philadelphia firm Layser & Freiwald.

The record shows that the complaint originally named Leonard Gomella, the physician who preformed the procedure, as an additional defendant, but the plaintiffs discontinued their claims against the doctor in early July before they filed their amended complaint.

In the defense petition seeking removal from the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the lawyers representing Intuitive Surgical wrote that the matter should be litigated in federal court because it is a civil action between citizens of different states, which would give a federal judge subject matter jurisdiction over the case.

The removal petition is signed by Goodell Devries attorney Robert A. Limbacher.


The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04814-WY.

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