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Medtronic Settles Sprint Fidelis Defibrillator Suit for $268M

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By Jason Beahm on October 18, 2010 12:45 PM

When it comes to lawsuits involving pharmaceuticals and medical device companies, the figures are often massive. This Thursday was no exception, when Medtronic, the world's largest medical device maker, settled all of its lawsuits involving their Sprint Fidelis Defibrillator leads. The cost to put an end to a lawsuit that arose over their malfunction, which led to as many as 13 deaths: a cool $268 million. As is common, Medtronic did not admit any liability in the settlement.

Still, the peace of mind that sum of money has to provide for Medtronic's executives and attorneys likely makes it a bargain in their eyes. Medtronic recalled its Sprint Fidelis defibrillation leads three years ago, taking the wires off the market in October 2007. The wires had a defect that caused some of them to crack, which in turn sent electric shock to patients that didn't need it in some cases, and failed to deliver shocks when they were needed in other cases.

According to The Associated Press, over 250,000 Sprint Fidelis leads were used in patients prior to the recalls and many patients required new surgery to remove or replace the wire. The settlement covers about 8,100 cases in the U.S. The average payout will be $33,000 to patients who have defibrillators with wires that have broken or are considered likely to break. Now Medtronic is able to move forward from what was an expensive and embarrassing mistake.

Medtronic will now move to dismiss all Spring Fidelis cases in the U.S. "Both the plaintiffs and Medtronic realized this was the best resolution for people injured by these wires," Hunter Shkolnik, a New York-based lawyer for injured defibrillator users, said in a interview with Bloomberg.

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