June 1996 AAOS Report

Academy seeks sanctions in pedicle screw cases

Acting after Judge Louis Bechtle indicated that claims against the Academy and other defendants in the pedicle screw cases may violate the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rules), the Academy has notified 100 plaintiff attorneys nationwide of its intention to seek sanctions if they persist in their cases against the Academy. These sanctions would include attorneys' fees and dismissal of the Academy from the case with prejudice (meaning that all matters in the cases have been decided and cannot be relitigated). Judge Bechtle made the announcement after the Academy and numerous other defendants pointed out what they claimed to be substantial flaws and deficiencies in the cases pleaded against them. The notices were served on both individual plaintiffs attorneys and on the Plaintiffs' Legal Committee, the group which has spearheaded the multidistrict litigation currently underway in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The Academy has claimed that the plaintiffs failed 'to provide more than bare assertions in a complaint, unsupported by allegations of fact.' The Academy also asserts that the plaintiff attorneys violated numerous other Rules. The Academy has been named in more than 530 nearly identical pedicle screw actions. The court will consider whether there are violations of the Rules sufficient to allow sanctions in conjunction with the Academy's motion to be dismissed entirely from the litigation. The North American Spine Society and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons have served similar notices on plaintiffs' counsel.

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