October 1998 AAOS Report

Court dismisses AAOS, SRS, NASS from pedicle suits

Judge Louis Bechtle of the U.S. District Court of Eastern Pennsylvania has dismissed the claims against the Academy, Scoliosis Research Society and North American Spine Society in about 270 lawsuits insofar as it was asserted that the organizations and device manufacturers conspired to unlawfully promote the sale and distribution of pedicle screw devices. The Plaintiff's Legal Committee (PLC) has appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals the judge's dismissal of the other aspect of the claim against the associations-the claim of conspiring to violate the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. In addition, the PLC began to stipulate to dismissal of the associations from some 50 cases that Judge Bechtle had earlier remanded to the local federal courts for trial. By mid-September, the associations had been dismissed at the PLC's request from two of these 50 cases. Up to that point, the Academy and the other medical societies had been successful in obtaining summary judgment in seven pedicle screw cases in five different federal jurisdictions. William W. Tipton Jr., MD, executive vice president of the Academy, said, "The Academy is extremely pleased that Judge Bechtle and the PLC have finally discovered what we believed all along, that the Academy should not have been named in the litigation." In related news, the PLC is attempting again to reopen the pedicle screw Cohort Study and possibly obtain the names of the participating physicians. The PLC has asked Judge Bechtle to appoint an expert to analyze the preoperative and postoperative conditions of patients who were subjects of the study.

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