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Federal Judge Failed to Disclose Son’s Connection to Medtronic

The federal judge who last month dismissed nearly 700 product liability cases against Medtronic Inc. failed to disclose that his son’s law firm has previously represented the company. The federal district court judge, Richard H. Kyle, said it never occurred to him that the issue presented a conflict.

Kyle’s son, Richard H. Kyle Jr, is a partner with Fredrikson & Byron, which has represented Medtronic in past legal cases. Although the firm is not working with Medtronic on the current liability litigation, legal experts say the revelation could allow for the cases to be reinstated.

Medtronic is under fire for manufacturing faulty Sprint Fidelis defibrillators, designed to regulate the heartbeats of cardiac patients. In 2007, doctors found that wiring leads on the device were fracturing, leading to malfunctions and the deaths of several patients. Some patients received unnecessary shocks from the device, while others went into cardiac arrest when the device failed to function. Medtronic later admitted that five deaths might have been caused by the fractured wiring.

Last month’s ruling threw out all existing cases against Medtronic, citing a Supreme Court precedent in which federal regulation of medical devices supersedes similar state laws. Because the Food and Drug Administration had previously approved the Sprint Fidelis device, Judge Kyle found that Medtronic was not liable for the ensuing malfunctions.

Federal lawmakers are expected to take up the issue later this year, considering legislation which would make it easier for plaintiffs to take legal action in such liability cases.

About Williams Hart

For over 25 years, the Houston product liability attorneys of Williams Hart have represented innocent consumers injured by dangerous products. If you or someone you know has been adversely affected by a faulty Medtronic defibrillator, contact the Medtronic lawyers of Williams Hart at (800) 220-9341 today for a free initial consultation.

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