Defective Medical Device Lawsuits

The escalating number of defective medical devices and their subsequent recalls have cast a spotlight on these pressing concerns within the healthcare industry and their legal consequences.

Lawsuit background and development

Settlements and verdicts

How to file a lawsuit

Overview of Defective Medical Devices

The issue of defective medical devices is not to be taken lightly, as it represents a grave concern within the healthcare sector. These devices, when malfunctioning, can lead to severe injuries, life-threatening conditions, and even death.

Alarmingly, statistics have shown that the incidence of such defective medical devices is on the rise, marked by a significant increase in reports of malfunctions, recalls, and safety alerts.

It's somewhat reassuring to know that the FDA is keeping a vigilant eye on this situation. Their data indicates a striking increase in the number of medical device recalls, surging by 97% in a decade from 604 in 2003 to 1,190 in 2012. (FDA)

Turning our attention to the public health implications, the impact of defective medical devices is staggering. Every year in the US, these devices are responsible for over 200,000 injuries, shedding light on both the frequency and potential severity of such incidents. (ConsumerNotice)

Even more alarming is the historical data showing that from 2008 to 2018, device-related malfunctions were implicated in over 80,000 deaths, underscoring the deadly risks posed by these failures. (StatNews)

The situation grows even more concerning with revelations from a Kaiser Health News investigation, which found that since 2016, at least 1.1 million device-related incidents were relegated to an “alternative summary reporting” system. (KFFHealthNews) This less transparent mechanism has effectively masked the true extent of the problem, suggesting that the reported incidents might only be the tip of the iceberg.

The lack of transparency in reporting underscores an urgent need for more stringent regulatory measures and comprehensive monitoring, ensuring that patients are protected from the hazards posed by defective medical devices.

Signs of a Potential Defective Medical Device Case

There are various ways to identify a defective medical device or potential issues with its functionality. These indications commonly surface from patient experiences and symptoms subsequent to using the device. Such signs can include:

  • Unusual Symptoms or Complications: Patients might experience unexpected side effects, pain, or other symptoms that are not typical of their condition or the expected outcomes of the medical treatment or device usage.
  • Visible Malfunction: Clear signs of device malfunction, such as a device breaking, failing to operate as intended, or showing errors, can indicate a defect.
  • Revision Surgeries or Additional Medical Interventions: If a patient requires additional surgeries or medical procedures to address problems with a device, this could suggest that the original device was defective.
  • Recalls and Safety Alerts: Publicly issued recalls or safety alerts regarding a specific device can serve as a strong indication that the device may be defective and has been recognized as such by regulatory bodies or manufacturers.
  • Reports from Other Patients or Healthcare Providers: Anecdotal evidence or case reports from other patients, doctors, or healthcare institutions about similar issues with the same type of device can point to a broader problem.

In cases where a defective medical device is suspected, it is crucial for patients to seek medical advice to assess and address any health risks. Additionally, legal consultation can help determine if there is a basis for a lawsuit to recover damages for injuries, medical expenses, and other losses related to the defective device.

Regulatory Challenges and Issues

The FDA is the regulatory body that has the authority to recall medical devices if they are found to be defective, dangerous, or in violation of federal safety standards. Its power to recall defective devices is a fundamental aspect of the regulatory challenges and issues in the medical device industry, essential for safeguarding public health.

Through this mechanism, the FDA ensures that devices that may cause harm or pose a risk to patients are quickly identified and addressed, either through correction or removal from the market.

FDA Medical Device Recalls

A recall is an action taken to remove or correct medical devices that are in violation of FDA laws and regulations. Recalls occur when a device is found to have a defect, when there is a risk of health hazard, or when it is both defective and a risk to health. They are typically initiated by the manufacturer but can also be mandated by the FDA.

In 2023, the FDA executed 62 medical device recalls, indicating a proactive approach to monitoring and addressing potential risks associated with medical devices. As of the first quarter of 2024, there have already been 26 medical device recalls, suggesting that the regulatory body remains vigilant in its efforts to ensure the safety and efficacy of medical devices in the market. (FDA)

This trend reflects the FDA's commitment to patient safety, demonstrating its readiness to act decisively in response to any indication of device failure or health hazard.

The FDA's power to recall plays a vital role in the regulatory framework, serving not only to protect patients but also to enforce strict compliance standards for manufacturers, thereby maintaining the integrity of the medical device industry.

Shortcomings of the FDA 510(k) Process

The FDA 510(k) process is a premarket submission pathway for new medical devices. It allows manufacturers to demonstrate that their new device is safe and effective by comparing it to a similar device that has already been approved.

The 510(k) comparison involves submitting data comparing the new product to an existing one, highlighting design, materials, and performance. While the process speeds up market entry, it has shortcomings that have drawn significant concern.

Namely, the 510(k) assumes new devices are safe just because they resemble older, approved ones, potentially overlooking risks like untested new materials or technologies that could behave unpredictably in clinical settings. The process may bypass extensive testing, like long-term clinical trials, which assess the device's performance and safety over time, possibly leading to unforeseen adverse effects.

Healthcare professionals, regulatory experts, and consumers are not reserved to criticize the 510(k) process, especially when addressing its potential for "predicate creep." Predicate creep occurs when successive generations of devices, each slightly modified, are approved based on the original device's approval, possibly straying significantly from the initial safety and efficacy profile.

Examples of Defective Medical Devices Lawsuits

Defective medical devices have frequently been at the center of legal battles, with numerous cases highlighting the severe consequences of device failures. These lawsuits often expose systemic issues in device approval, manufacturing, and post-market surveillance, resulting in substantial settlements or verdicts.

Some of the most notable cases in this arena have set precedents, significantly impacting the medical device industry. Let's delve into a few of these landmark lawsuits below.

Johnson & Johnson's DePuy Hip Replacement

Johnson & Johnson's DePuy hip replacement systems faced major problems with their ASR XL Acetabular and Pinnacle lines. Launched in 2005, these metal-on-metal implants were supposed to be extra durable, but instead, they shed metal debris that damaged surrounding tissues and caused infections.

This issue led to a large number of people requiring revision surgery to take out the faulty implants. By 2010, DePuy was forced to recall the ASR XL system due to the high failure rates. Patients unhappy with the outcome filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, alleging the company knew or should have known about the design flaws and failed to warn them.

To avoid a lengthy court battle, Johnson & Johnson settled these consolidated lawsuits for a massive $4 billion in 2013. It's important to remember that this settlement didn't determine fault but provided compensation to a large group of affected individuals. The specific amount each person received depended on the severity of their injuries.


Medtronic's Infuse Bone Graft

Medtronic's Infuse Bone Graft, designed to stimulate bone growth, became embroiled in a series of lawsuits. Thousands of patients alleged Medtronic aggressively pushed Infuse for uses not approved by the FDA, particularly in certain neck surgeries, and failed to warn about potential complications.

Accusations flew about misleading marketing, with Medtronic allegedly paying doctors for promotion and manipulating research to downplay risks. To resolve these issues, Medtronic reached multiple settlements: in 2012, they paid out a hefty $85 million to shareholders for misleading information about Infuse revenue from off-label use.

In 2014, they began compensating patients, settling with some 1,000 plaintiffs for $22 million and allocating an additional $140 million for anticipated settlements. By 2017, Medtronic had reached settlements exceeding a staggering $460 million with various plaintiffs and states.

(Medtronic, TCB Mag)

Boston Scientific's Transvaginal Mesh

Boston Scientific's transvaginal mesh faced a storm of lawsuits from the mid-2000s onward. Thousands of women alleged the mesh caused severe complications like chronic pain and infections, and that the company failed to adequately warn about the risks.

This avalanche of lawsuits stemmed from concerns about the mesh design and the company's marketing practices. To resolve these claims, Boston Scientific opted for settlements rather than gamble on lengthy trials.

This included a hefty $189 million multi-state settlement in 2021 to address accusations of deceptive marketing. They also settled a massive group of roughly 3,000 lawsuits for $119 million in 2015.

While individual payouts varied, Boston Scientific ended up paying hundreds of millions of dollars in total to compensate women who suffered complications from the mesh and avoid negative publicity.

(Mesh News Desk, KFFHealthNews)

Legal Framework and Litigation

When individuals are affected by a defective medical device, they have legal options to seek justice. These options include filing a personal injury lawsuit, participating in a class action suit, or joining multidistrict litigation (MDL).

Each legal route offers a way to address grievances against the manufacturers of defective medical devices and seek accountability for the harm caused.

Damages in a Defective Medical Device Lawsuit

Pursuing a lawsuit for a defective medical device can lead to the award of damages, which compensate for the harm suffered. The damages in a defective medical device lawsuit can vary based on the specifics of each case, addressing the multifaceted harm caused by the device failure.

Some of the most common types of compensation awarded in a defective medical device lawsuit include:

  • Medical Expenses: Covers hospital stays, surgeries, medication, physical therapy, and any ongoing healthcare needs related to the device's malfunction.
  • Lost Wages: Reimburses for income lost during recovery and potential future earnings if the victim cannot return to work due to long-term health effects.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensates for physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life resulting from the defective device.
  • Punitive Damages: Imposed on the manufacturer to punish wrongful conduct and deter similar negligence, reflecting the severity of wrongdoing.
  • Wrongful Death: Provided to the survivors or estate for the death of a loved one, covering funeral expenses, lost future income, and loss of companionship.
  • Loss of Consortium: Addresses the impact on the relationship with the victim, such as loss of intimacy, companionship, and support, affecting spouses or close family members.

Each of these compensation options is crucial for providing financial relief and justice to the victims. They help cover the extensive costs incurred from the defective device, compensate for the loss and suffering experienced, and serve to hold manufacturers accountable for their negligence or wrongdoing.

Potential Defendants in Defective Product Claims Involving Medical Devices

Lawsuits involving defective medical devices can be complex due to the involvement of multiple parties. The nature of the defect and the resulting harm often dictate the range of potential defendants, which may include:

  • Manufacturers: Cited for negligence in the device's design or production, often linked to a lack of adequate testing.
  • Suppliers/Distributors: Held accountable for not performing due diligence or failing to ensure safety measures were in place.
  • Retailers: Responsible for ensuring the products they sell meet safety standards, their negligence can lead to litigation.
  • Medical Practitioners: If they failed to adhere to safety measures or were negligent in the device's application.
  • Healthcare Facilities: Potentially negligent in maintaining equipment or lacking adequate testing protocols.
  • Third-Party Vendors: Involved in the supply chain, they can be held responsible for contributing to the device's defectiveness through negligence.

Given these complexities, it's essential to seek an experienced and skillful lawyer who understands the nuances of medical device litigation and can effectively navigate the legal landscape to advocate for the victim’s rights and compensation.

Legal Assistance and Representation

Handling a lawsuit for a defective medical device demands legal and medical expertise due to the intricacies of such cases. This expertise is necessary not only to understand the specific legal and regulatory environment but also to effectively counter the strategies of manufacturers' legal teams.

These teams are well-equipped to defend their clients, presenting a significant challenge for individuals trying to represent themselves. Their legal resources and knowledge in navigating these complex cases emphasize the need for qualified legal representation to level the playing field and advocate for the plaintiff's rights.

How an Attorney Can Help

An attorney specializing in defective medical device lawsuits is instrumental in guiding clients through the complexities of such claims. Given the technical nature of these cases, preparation and a thorough understanding of the science behind the device's malfunction are required. This will allow the attorney to clearly present and demonstrate the device’s role in their client’s injury.

The attorney will begin this process by analyzing the case and its specifics, leveraging their legal and medical expertise to build a strong foundation. They then gather all the necessary evidence, such as medical records, device malfunction reports, and witness statements, and collaborate with medical experts to substantiate the claim.

After building a strong case backed by evidence and expert opinions, they confront the manufacturer's robust legal defenses, aiming to secure just compensation. Throughout this entire process, the attorney stands as the client's advocate, ensuring their voice is heard, and their rights are protected in the legal arena.

How to Find a Defective Medical Device Lawyer Near Me

Finding the right lawyer to handle your defective medical device lawsuit is made much easier with Our platform showcases a curated selection of experienced lawyers specializing in defective medical device cases.

By leveraging our platform's intuitive search functionality, you can effortlessly narrow down your options based on factors such as location, expertise, and client reviews.

Our extensive database ensures that you'll find a lawyer near you who possesses the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively represent your interests. With, securing top-notch legal representation for your defective medical device lawsuit has never been more convenient.

What Defective Medical Device Lawyers Are the Best?

When seeking the best defective medical device lawyer, it's crucial to consider several key qualities that can greatly impact your case's outcome:

  • Area of Specialization: A lawyer specializing in defective medical device cases possesses in-depth knowledge of relevant laws and regulations, allowing them to navigate complex legal frameworks effectively.
  • Experience with Similar Cases: Experience breeds expertise. A lawyer with a long history of handling similar cases understands the nuances involved and can anticipate potential challenges, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
  • Track Record of Success: A proven track record of success demonstrates the lawyer's ability to deliver results for their clients, instilling confidence in their capabilities.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential for building a strong attorney-client relationship and ensuring that you're informed and involved throughout the legal process.
  • Empathy and Compassion: Dealing with the consequences of a defective medical device can be emotionally challenging. A lawyer who demonstrates empathy and compassion can provide not only legal support but also emotional support during this difficult time.

By prioritizing these qualities when choosing a defective medical device lawyer, you can ensure that you're entrusting your case to a capable and compassionate advocate who is dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for you.

Settlements and Compensation

Defective medical device lawsuits typically conclude with a settlement or a verdict, where settlements involve negotiated compensation to avoid trial uncertainties. In settlements, compensation is key, as the plaintiff must agree to an amount that covers their damages and losses from the device's failure.

How Much Are Defective Medical Device Settlements Worth?

Determining the worth of settlements in cases involving defective medical devices is complex, as there is no standard go-to amount. The value of these settlements depends on multiple factors, each unique to the individual case, including:

  • Severity of the Injury: The nature and seriousness of the injury can significantly affect settlement amounts.
  • Extent of Medical Treatment Required: This includes both past and future medical care, surgeries, and rehabilitation.
  • Impact on Quality of Life: How the injury affects daily living, including loss of enjoyment of life and mental anguish.
  • Duration of Recovery: The length of time it takes to recover and the extent of ongoing care or treatment needed.
  • Existence of any Permanent Disabilities or Impairments: Long-term effects of the injury that may lead to increased compensation.
  • Financial Losses Incurred: This encompasses medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, and potential future income losses.

It is also important to point out that in addition to the specific circumstances of the case, legal precedents are also very important in shaping the financial outcomes of settlements. Historical case outcomes provide a reference point and guide the negotiation process, helping establish the range of acceptable compensation.


A defective medical device lawsuit can be filed by individuals who have experienced injury or harm from the device, or by their legal representatives, which may include family members or the estates of deceased victims.

If patients suspect harm from a defective medical device, they should immediately seek medical attention, document their injuries and the device details, and consult with a lawyer experienced in medical device litigation.

Patients who want more information about medical device recalls and safety notices can use the following government resources to stay up-to-date:

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