Bacterial Infections After Heart Surgery Using Allegedly Defective Heater-Cooler System – Litigation Update

Categories: 3T Heater-Cooler Bacterial Infection Lawsuits

Lawsuits have been and continue to be filed by individuals who have suffered bacterial infections following heart procedures involving LivaNova PLC (formerly Sorin Group Deutschland GmbH) Stöckert 3T heater-cooler devices.  The lawsuits allege that the manufacturer negligently designed the system thereby exposing open chest surgery patients to high levels of a bacteria, which in some cases resulted in a rare, potentially deadly infection. The lawsuits further allege that the manufacturers failed to warn patients and their doctors of patient exposure bacterial colonization. According to the CDC, approximately 60 percent of heart bypass procedures performed in the U.S. utilize devices that have been associated with this type of infection. 

As also reported by the CDC, the bacteria, Mycobacterium chimaera, is a species of nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM) often found in soil and water. Patients who have been exposed to the bacteria through open-heart surgery can develop general and nonspecific symptoms that can often take months to develop. As a result, diagnosis of these infections can be missed or delayed, sometimes for years, making these infections more difficult to treat. Infections can be diagnosed by detecting the bacteria by laboratory culture; the slow growing nature of the bacteria can require up to two months to rule out infection.

Approximately 15 cases have been filed in federal court. A class action has been filed in the District of South Carolina.  In addition, a 1/26/17 petition has been filed asking the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to create a multidistrict litigation (MDL) docket for the cases. A MDL is a type of legal proceeding that helps federal courts efficiently manage many similar cases filed in many different courts across the U.S. by allowing the temporary transfer of all of the federal civil lawsuits to one or more district courts for pretrial consolidation or coordination. The JPML is a group of federal judges designated by the Chief Justice of the United States, which has the responsibility for determining which cases qualify for MDL treatment, as well as which district court to transfer and consolidate these cases. The transfers are made if the Panel determines that the transfers will result in the convenience of the parties and witnesses and will promote the just and efficient conduct of the cases. (For more information about MDLs and the JPML, contact Borgess Law.)  The plaintiffs have asked the panel to transfer pending Sorin 3T cases to South Carolina federal court.

Borgess Law will continue to keep you updated on the status of the litigation.

How We Can Help:

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with a bacterial infection following a heart procedure, you should be aware of the ongoing litigation.

Attorney Pamela A. Borgess, the founder of Borgess Law, LLC, has extensive experience with numerous national high-profile defective medical drug/device cases.  Attorney Borgess will happy to discuss your legal options. For more information about the 3T heater-cooler litigation or to discuss a potential claim, contact Borgess Law at (567) 455-5955 or toll-free at (844) LAW-9144. You can also contact Borgess Law by submitting an online inquiry. Borgess Law never charges for initial consultations.  We welcome any questions you may have.