Lawsuits alleging injury from the da Vinci surgical robot increased from 33 to 50, Intuitive Surgical Inc. reported Oct. 18, a 51 percent jump in three months.
In a Form 10-Q report to stockholders filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Intuitive said the lawsuits have been filed in various federal and state courts by plaintiffs who allege that the da Vinci Surgical System caused personal injuries or the deaths of family members.
It said a class action has been filed in a Louisiana state court.
“We have seen a substantial increase in these claims; however, we have not received detailed information regarding many of these claims,” Intuitive said.
“In an effort to provide an orderly process for evaluating claims before they result in costly litigation, we have entered into tolling agreements with certain plaintiffs’ counsel acting on behalf of such claimants,” it continued. It said the agreements toll statutes of limitations for three to six months so the company can evaluate claims and “explore whether the claims have merit and whether they can be resolved without litigation.”
One wrongful death case has gone to verdict, Josette Taylor, et al. v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (No. 09-2-03136-5, Wash. Super., Kitsap Co.). Intuitive said the plaintiff has filed a notice of appeal.
The da Vinci device is used in abdominal/pelvic cases, such as prostate surgery. Plaintiffs allege that the device can cause unintended damage, resulting in perforation and bleeding, requiring surgeons to abandon the device and perform traditional surgery.
Intuitive has argued that injuries have occurred as a result of surgeon error.
Last year, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied a plaintiffs’ motion to centralize federal lawsuits in a multidistrict litigation, finding that there were then too few cases and that individual issues predominated over common ones (In Re: Intuitive Surgical, Inc., Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2381, JPMDL).
Intuitive also reports that it faces several lawsuits by shareholders alleging that the company either inflated stock prices or failed to disclose problems with the da Vinci system.