October 1997 AAOS Report

National medical societies file amicus curiae brief in pedicle screw suit

Eleven national medical specialty societies have filed a joint amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the pedicle screw multidistrict litigation on behalf of the Academy, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, North American Spine Society and Scoliosis Research Society. The medical societies signing onto the brief include American Academy of Dermatology, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, American College of Emergency Physicians, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American College of Radiology, American College of Surgeons, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, American Society of Plastic and Refractive Surgeons and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. This amicus curiae brief joins those filed by the American Medical Association in July and the American Council on Education, American Podiatric Medical Association, American Association of Medical Schools and Association of American Universities in August.

In related news, a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit heard oral arguments on Sept. 23 to seek reversal of Judge Louis Bechtle's decision in April 1997 not to dismiss the medical societies from the pedicle screw suit. Former chief judge of the Third Circuit John S. Gibbons argued on behalf of the defendant-medical societies. The medical societies argued that the continuation of the pedicle screw multidistrict litigation has had and will continue to have a "substantial chilling effect on the medical associations' rights to participate in the free exchange of ideas on medical and scientific topics, on the conduct of medical education in the U.S., on medical research and on medical practice in general." We are awaiting a ruling from the Courts.

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