Fifth Circuit Allows Suit to Continue

On Thursday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a patient’s suit against the maker of a defective medical device, a hip replacement product, to proceed with part of his case, despite an objection by the product maker that the claim was preempted by federal regulations. The case was Bass v. Stryker Corporation (No. 11-10076).

In recent years, one argument that makers of products use to avoid liability for the harm caused by their products is that the federal government regulates the products and thus the state-law claims of negligence and products liability should be preempted by federal standards. The gist is that, rather than a safety floor, providing a minimum of protection which states are free to exceed, federal standards instead constitute a ceiling.

In the Bass case, the Fifth Circuit would not permit any theory by the injured patient based upon a marketing defect or failure to warn to proceed. But it did allow him to pursue his case to the extent that the medical device had a manufacturing defect. Also, the Court allowed him to proceed on a theory of breach of implied warranty. Therefore, to this extent, the opinion was a victory for safety, patients, and consumers.

The attorneys at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner handle a wide variety of products liability cases, including those involving medical devices like artificial hips, motor vehicles, and tires. To discuss a claim you may have free of charge, call (713) 222-7211.