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Intuitive Surgical Files to RemoveDa Vinci Robot Lawsuit to Federal Court


Over the past several years, the Da Vinci surgical system has been implicated in several civil lawsuits, primarily due to its alleged propensity to cause unwanted damage to surrounding tissue and organs during minimally-invasive abdominal and pelvic surgeries.

Accordingly, plaintiffs from across the United States have filed personal injury lawsuits seeking compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional suffering. On March 6, 2015, one such plaintiff filed her lawsuit against the makers of the Da Vinci Surgical Robot in Georgia State Court of Fulton County, naming Intuitive Surgical as responsible for her injuries caused by an allegedly defective product.

As is common, Intuitive Surgical filed a Notice of Removal on April 8, 2015 in which it exercised its rights under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) to transfer a case from state court to federal courts. Theoretically, defendants opt to remove cases from state to federal court in order to avoid a perceived bias by local juries against large, out-of-state corporate defendants. Nonetheless, Intuitive Surgical will still need to address the allegations it is facing by not only this Georgia plaintiff, but hundreds more across the nation.

Allegations against Intuitive Surgical, Inc.

Intuitive Surgical is the manufacturer of a product known as the Da Vinci Robot, which has been marketed to practitioners as a safe and effective method for conducting minimally-invasive surgical procedures. The device utilizes a highly-technical robotic arm during the procedure, which is operated by the surgeon, who is trained to use the $1.5 million device in order to promote faster healing and reduced recovery time.

However, as claimants have alleged in da Vinci robot surgery lawsuits, the device has also been known to cause damage to organs and tissue in areas surrounding the target area, as well as severe thermal burns – often requiring painful follow-up surgery and lifelong scarring.

In the recent Georgia case, a female plaintiff underwent a somewhat routine procedure on her reproductive organs, which necessitated the use of a Da Vinci Robot component known as Monopolar Curved Scissors. In the process, plaintiff alleges that the inaccuracy of the robotic arm caused her to sustain severe thermal burns to her left ureter, as well as significant and potentially permanent damage to the area. Resultantly, the plaintiff is seeking compensation for her actual medical expenses, lost wages and future earnings. She is also seeking compensation for the emotional and mental anguish the experience has caused.

Causes of action pending against Intuitive Surgical

Intuitive Surgical is a nationally-known medical device corporation operating out of Sunnyvale, California and incorporated in the State of Delaware. One of its most well-recognized products, the Da Vinci Robot surgical system, was introduced to the U.S. market in 2000 after it received FDA approval, and is primarily used in cardiac and gynecological procedures and prostatectomies.

Here, the plaintiff alleges that the Da Vinci Robot is not safe for use, is unreasonably dangerous, and Intuitive Surgical failed to warn practitioners and consumers as to the heightened risk of danger. Likewise, the plaintiff has alleged violations of state consumer protection acts, breaches of express and implied warranties, and general negligence.

In 2013, the FDA conducted a survey of several gynecological, urological, and cardiac practitioners with experience using the Da Vinci Robot. Of the respondents, many indicated the need for more extensive training, smaller instruments, and greater integration of traditional procedural components including ultrasound technology and patient monitoring capabilities.

In 2014, Intuitive Surgical issued substantial changes to its labeling, primarily due to “user feedback.”  The changes were issued with a number of patient safety points, some of which involved severe risks to patient health and product effectiveness.