Late last week, Indianapolis-based Guidant lost its battle to keep secret certain documents that may sink its defense in its product liability litigation involving defective heart implantable devices. The New York Times and two Texas citizens won access to certain documents they allege prove that Guidant knew the dangers associated with certain heart defibrillators and pacemakers. In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege…
that the product manufacturer knowingly sold defective products.
According to Bob Hillard, the plaintiffs’ attorney, there are some handwritten notes from Fred McCoy, president of the division of Guidant that makes the defective devices in question, that show that the company and its top executives made a conscious decision to sell defective inventory even after the company learned that there was a potential that the product could short-circuit. Hillard stated,
They made a decision to change the design and sell the defective inventory without notifying the public.
Guidant spokespeople had no immediate comment after the ruling.
The first trial stemming from the defective heart implants is set for trial in February. Records show that that the defibrillators, used to shock heart rate patterns back into regular patterns may have been linked to at least seven deaths.
The company has issued warnings and recalls on approximately 88,000 defibrillators and more than 200,000 pacemakers because of so-called malfunctions. As a result, the company faces significant exposure and many lawsuits over these defective products.